The traveler experience truly starts the moment they step foot into the airport of their destination country or locality. As the gateway to this location, the airport provides a glimpse of what’s to come. In many ways, an airport represents a place’s values, culture, and character. As such, it should be improved and taken care of to provide a pleasing and welcoming experience to visitors and returning locals alike.
While not all airports have the budget and vision of the likes of Incheon International Airport in Korea, Hamad International Airport in Qatar, or Changi Airport in Singapore, crowned for the twelfth time in a row as the world’s best airport, the upgrading of airport amenities may see solid returns in increased passengers, added flights, and better investment opportunities.
Below are a few reasons why airports should strive to upgrade their offerings:
1. Boost Tourism
Airports are more than just transit hubs; they are the first impression a country makes on international travelers. To enhance their services, an airport has to undergo a facilities upgrade. This can entice local and international visitors to come and experience adventures. In Cebu, Philippines, this is exactly what was done.
The PHP 17.52 billion expansion project of Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), which was completed on August 27, 2019, is an important example of a project for airport development in the Philippines. It enabled this second-busiest airport in the country to accommodate up to 8 million passengers per year. Thanks to this renovation and expansion project, the airport can now accommodate more international and domestic flights to the island of Cebu, one of the country’s top tourism destinations.
2. Increase Foreign Investments
As a rule, investors seek stability and efficiency. With a well-equipped airport, it signals a country's commitment to creating an environment that is conducive to doing business. What’s more the upgraded amenities in the airport attract more direct flights, which leads to better interconnectivity. Through interconnected airport facilities, economic hubs can be created, which can then attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs) and drive economic prosperity for the area.
In Italy, a European Transport Research Review confirmed the 33.7 percent increase of FDIs in the country in the two years following the addition of new aviation routes. The review touched on the need for development in airport infrastructure if the goal of policymakers is to increase foreign investment.
3. Provide First-Class Passenger Experience
Upgrading airport amenities is not just about functionality; it's about elevating the passenger experience to a global standard. From VIP lounges to value-adding technologies, amenity upgrades represent investments in passenger comfort that will resonate with discerning travelers. This will create a positive perception of both the airport and the country.
More than tangible amenities like airport spas, cinemas, and conference rooms, however, customer service also plays a significant role in providing this first-class passenger experience. That’s why it’s important not to neglect this aspect of airport operation as well.
4. Ensure Skills Diversification
In terms of skills diversification and development, having upgraded airport amenities fosters an environment that encourages continuous learning, professional growth, and the acquisition of diverse skill sets.
With the procurement of advanced technologies, for example, airport staff can learn how to operate these state-of-the-art equipment while the airport’s IT personnel and other technical staff can learn how to troubleshoot and maintain the new systems. All these new exposures count as valuable skills in the staff’s arsenal.
5. Improve Safety and Efficiency
Safety and efficiency are non-negotiable in the aviation industry. In every major upgrade, these aspects of airport operations should be the top priority. Through innovative security scanners, state-of-the-art runway facilities, and efficient air traffic control systems, airports can ensure streamlined operations and a safe environment for passengers and workers alike.
6. Keep in Compliance with International Standards
In the interconnected world of aviation, compliance with international standards is imperative. Upgraded amenities ensure that airports meet or even exceed these standards. This fosters trust and enhances the overall passenger experience. Moreover, a commitment to excellence in infrastructure also enhances a country's reputation and international standing.
Some examples of these airport facilities and services that need to keep abreast with global standards are visual aids for navigation, airport emergency response and medical services, runway and taxiway services, security systems, aircraft handling services, and more.
7. Support Sustainability Goals
The global shift toward sustainability extends to the aviation sector. Upgrading airport amenities provides an opportunity to adopt eco-friendly practices, from energy-efficient buildings to sustainable transportation options. Indeed, the movers and shakers in the aviation industry recognize the importance of aligning with international environmental goals. This creates a win-win situation for both the airport and the planet.
Different airports in the world offer different types of passenger experiences. While most airports strive to treat each passenger like royalty, some have yet to step up and unroll the welcome mat. By upgrading airport amenities countries and localities have the opportunity to boost their visitor numbers, entice investment, and grow the economy.