THE FOCUS OF ASIAN AIRPORTS OUT OF COVID
Inter Airport speaks with 3 pertinent aviation industry professionals on what it will take to jumpstart progress after the COVID years.
The strategic partnership to manage Kualanamu International Airport is still in progress, currently in transition phase, according to Ajie Wibisono, 1st Line Manager, Air Traffic Development at PT Angkasa Pura Aviasi.
This, amidst news of India’s GMR Airports Limited winning a bid to develop and operate Medan’s Kualanamu, with the intention of transforming the airport into a western international hub for Indonesia.
The JVCo (Joint Venture Company) between PT Angkasa Pura Aviasi and their selected partner GMR Airport Limited (GAL) will need to attain a BUBU (Badan Usaha Bandar Udara/Airport Business Entity) that is issued by the MoT (Ministry of Transportation).
“By getting this license, JVCo will be permitted to officially manage Kualanamu International Airport,” noted Wibisono. With this on its way, Wibisono revealed that Angkasa Pura Aviasi (and partner - GAL) is still open for new business partner(s) in terms of the running of airport-related business areas.
The strategic partnership, noted Wibisono, emphasizes the three “E”s – Expansion traffic; Expertise; Equity.
“One of the focuses is to enlarge, build, and develop the existing terminal that currently only accommodates 9 million pax, despite the number of pax having overreached capacity with more than 10 million in 2019,” said Wibisono. “This process will be done in 3 phases over the next 25 years, to be able to reach 46 million pax,” Wibisono divulged, stating that Kualanamu International Airport is planned to be a Regional Hub in the west part of Indonesia.
1st Line Manager, Air Traffic Development
PT Angkasa Pura Aviasi
1st Line Manager, Air Traffic Development
PT Angkasa Pura Aviasi
Kualanamu International Airport – noted to eventually compete against Changi and KLIA – is among a few of the planned and underway expansion / upgrade plans in APAC. The list includes KLIA, which is looking at enhancing its communication and passenger and baggage management system; Melbourne International Airport, which is looking at upgrading its terminal services; Cambodia’s Phnom Penh International Airport, which is looking at technology upgradation to enhance passenger services; and Suvarnabhumi Airport, planning capacity expansion, which will incur implementing new airport management systems along with other technologies both in the land-side and air-side.
As we ascend out of the dark clouds of COVID, such welcomed progression of expansion / upgrade is revealing that the top 3 products global buyers (airports) are looking to acquire lie in enhancing passenger experience right from pre-check-in to boarding, according to Shantanu Gangakhedkar, Consultant at Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific.
Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific
“One key technology which is of interest by multiple airports across the region and globally, as a result of Covid-19, has been touchless biometrics and other similar passenger and baggage processing systems.
“Airports are looking at deploying these systems and solutions to ease out congestion and reduce processing times, while adhering to the new and changed protocols that has altered the passenger journey at an airport.
“From an operational standpoint, where airports are having to operate with reduce workforce, resource optimization solutions are gaining prominence, enabling airports to allocate resources dynamically in real time,” Gangakhedkar explained, noting that airports are also looking at airport management solutions that aid airport operators to reduce delays and inefficiencies.
For Huma Batool, Owner & Chairperson of Alvir Airways Private Limited, Changi Airport is one state-of-the-art example where with the implementation of digital platforms, it takes 5 minutes to reach the gate, 5 minutes to deplane if travelling in economy, less than 5 minutes’ walk to immigration, and 30 seconds to clear immigration – about 15 minutes in all after landing.
“The Pakistan Aviation Industry, just like with any other country, suffered for 2 years during the pandemic. The size of the Pakistani Aviation industry is very small and few major airports in Pakistan are equipped as per international standards,” Batool commented.
Owner & Chairperson
Alvir Airways Private Limited
“However, during the pandemic, the use of technology like Thermal Scanners, Contactless check-in etc were quite beneficial investments. Moreover, the global airport 4.0 initiative addressed the modernization and digitalization of customer experience and sustainability processes,” Batool stated, listing services from Disinfection Booths to Touchless Airport Security Screenings, such as at Hamad International Airport (HIA), to Anti- Epidemic Robots, such as those provided by Zorabots, to Automated Occupancy Monitoring Systems.
Batool’s commentary reflects that of Frost & Sullivan’s Gangakhedkar: “Technology such as touchless biometrics surely existed before Covid-19 and was also used by a few airports, but the degree of interest and the number of airports willing to deploy it has exponentially increased in the last 2 years. However, technologies like autonomous cleaning robots, solutions to monitor social distancing and temperature check was not really being used and only became prominent after.”
With the world now at the tail end of the pandemic, and all plans on hold are now in full systems-go mode, airports are being selective on which expansion / upgrade plans they want to go ahead with and which they want to defer for 2—3 years. Majority of the airports are choosing plans that focus on optimizing existing infrastructure and resources, while delaying large expansion plans down the line.
“Carrying out modification / upgrades that provides 15% to 30% increase in capacity, or enhances passenger experience for existing infrastructure and resources, is being looked for by airports. Few airports like Changi are also looking at sustainable solutions to be deployed at airports,” Gangakhedkar continued, adding that in the past few years, airports in Asia have been focusing on Passenger and Baggage processing systems, such as Self-Check-in Kiosks, Bag Drop Systems, and Security Systems, such as e-gates and communication systems in the terminal.
“The focus across airports in Asia has been to enhance passenger journey, leading to increase in non-aero revenue. Hence, the focus has been on reducing processing time per passenger. As airports in Asia continue to look at increasing throughput and increasing non-aero revenue, solutions that aid in enhancing passenger experience will be a central part of the strategy for majority of the airports, along with tools that aid in airport management.
“Moreover, tools that will gain prominence going forward will be the ones that aid in achieving sustainability goals, as globally and in Asia the push for reducing aviation's carbon footprint becomes a key objective for governments regulatory authorities and industry players alike,” Gangakhedkar concluded.