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03 July 2018

The airport of tomorrow will be great, but what does great look like

By Jane Murdoch

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects 7.8 billion passengers to travel in 2036, a near doubling of the 4 billion air travellers expected to fly in 2018! This prediction is based on a 3.6% average Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) noted in the release of the latest update to the association’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast -


This huge increase in footfall means massive opportunities for airports to maximise profits, the average global spend of a traveller at any airport is £52.  Airport lounges are being transformed into shopping malls that rival the Grand Canal in Las Vegas! Airports around the globe are expanding to capitalise on the huge increase in traveller numbers and associated spend.  I love travelling and shopping, so the two make a wonderful pair for me… not for my bank balance though.

Airports like the ultra-modern Incheon International Airport in South Korea or Haneda & Narita International Airport in Tokyo, Japan; who have embarked on a challenging expansion programme since winning the 2020 Summer Olympics, showcase developments and inspired thinking. To really see great, we need to look at Changi Airport in Singapore.


With visionary master planning, Changi Airport has developed a sustainable world-class air hub and destination of choice. From engineering to a Living Lab Programme where Changi Airport collaborates with innovative companies and start-ups to develop and demonstrate innovative technology in a live airport environment.

Their development of a clockwork baggage handling system that aims to get your bag from plane to carousel in just 12 minutes to smartwatches that provide airport staff with up to the minute flight info on their wrist and safety helmets with radio comms built in! Employing the latest technology in airfield lighting over their 4km of runways to improve landing safety and 16 sky trains to move travellers around the airport is no mean feat. They even doubled the width of passenger loading bridges for larger aircraft making boarding easier and faster, and why?  Quicker boarding means more time shopping. In airports, “Waiting time” is golden time -

Changi is an award-winning workplace, with strong digital presence and excellence in retail awards. Careers within the airport and scholarship programmes ensure they can grow their own talent and offer a best in breed airport to work in, so why would staff go anywhere else?  Companywide initiatives are driven through corporate-wide marketing that pushes the brand and highlights a heavy investment in enterprise risk and safety planning in and around the airport.

At a time when security and safety are at a peak, the increase in traveller numbers means potentially huge headaches for airports that do not fully understand and mitigate against their risks. Over the next 10-15 years, this will require the same change in thinking that we have seen in other areas of safety and passenger comfort. How are risks being identified and tracked?  Are airports preparing themselves for these new challenges and more importantly, how will the manage that change?

A study by Frost & Sullivan indicates the airport of tomorrow will be more diversified, automated and passenger-centric. Processes which will be driven by secure and trusted data with airports looking to digitise systems to monitor and achieve KPIs. These new systems and processes will be in place to track changes not only in the environment but the people. The expectation will be that every operational area will keep running if something goes wrong, with minimal impact to the overall airport.


Our experience working with airports shows it can be easy for airports to see where the risks are and visualise how they are delivering safety and compliance. Ideagen work with companies like British Airways / IAG Group, Bahrain Airport, HAECO and Air Transat to name but a few and our system has helped improve safety culture and increase efficiency.

These companies use our modern platforms with the ultimate end user experience and mobile apps to gain access to up to date relevant information, share data and visualise risk. Coruson and Q-Pulse provide outputs showing a top-down business view, where they are and how they are getting better. With our business intelligence tools, they gain visibility into the current state of any programme with continuous improvement for a future state.

If you would like more information on how our systems improve safety culture and increase business efficiency, please contact me, and I will be delighted to have a chat. 

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