BUILDING PHILIPPINES’ AIRPORT OF THE FUTURE

23 July, 2019

For a country like the Philippines which is currently undergoing a USD$180 billion major infrastructure investment program, airports are not only seen as transit points but enablers of economic growth in the capital Manila.  New and redeveloped airports in regional areas are also providing a catalyst for tourism and business growth throughout the country. Infrastructure development, such as rail networks, is also a critical aspect enabling these airport developments.

JICA’s annual passenger forecast for the Greater Capital Region is expected to rise from 49.8 million in 2020 to 106.7 million in 2040. This growth forecast is now driving new investments and modernization programs to provide for future demand and to avoid further disruption to existing hubs which are at capacity already. However, downward pressure globally on airline ticket prices means that developments need to be built and operated as cost-competitively as possible. In Manila, where airlines will soon have a choice in their hub, this is especially important to the private developer looking to ensure future revenues. 

Ensuring profitability also means that owners must innovate and find new approaches to be more efficient and responsive to passenger needs. By looking into today’s travel experience through a customer-centric lens, solutions can be developed to eliminate passenger pain points and improve the overall air travel experience. If done thoughtfully, customers that are happy with their end-to-end travel tend to spend more and this can translate into benefits, such as customer loyalty and improved revenue from non-aviation activities.

Overall, the ideal airport of the future is more complex than a rudimentary set of improvements – a wide range of factors are needed to be considered in terms of getting the planning and design right. There are opportunities through smart technologies to create both cost-effective and customer friendly developments. However, this will require creativity and a willingness to move outside conventional norms.

Owners and operators can balance the competing needs of preparing for the future while catering for the customer expectations of today through the lens of these five major trends:

1. Enabling the airport city: although airports have positively enabled globalization, they can only survive and thrive if they have the support of their local community

2. Championing the customer: by embracing the opportunities of digitization, passenger pain points and frustrations can be alleviated and even eliminated;

3. Embracing the challenge of mobility: by integrating airports with as many different modes of transport as possible, and embracing the efficiency opportunities of autonomous vehicles, airports can revolutionize how passengers get to airports, how they travel around it, and how they get to their destination

4. Customer-centric airport terminal design: it’s not enough to be innovative, efficient and sustainable; airport operators must also integrate the needs of customers into their terminal design decisions

5. Being serious about sustainability: the obligations and regulatory requirements on the global aviation industry will only increase as the world confronts the climate change challenge


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Ross McKenzie

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