Klaus Dengler, Managing Director Europoles Suisse GmbH), René Vuillemin, (Managing Director Europoles Suisse GmbH)
Airport Facilitation includes but is not limited to, efficient flow of passengers, luggage and cargo through the airport facilities in a manner that is safe, convenient and secure.
Services delivered should meet and exceed the expectations of customers and all stakeholders on a consistent basis. This requires a high level of coordination with all partners and stakeholders that are responsible for the various interactions and processes from the point of arriving at the airport’s facilities (adequate parking arrangements) to the time of departure (efficient boarding and departure processes).
Airports are continuously reviewing their operations to ensure that the end to end process of facilitation reduces the hassle of travelers and provides the end user with a memorable experience while balancing the need for increased screening and security.
Globally airports are developing revenue from non-aeronautical sources as the decline in air traffic forces airports to reduce their dependency on aeronautical fees. At MBIA, we have sought to improve our facilitation in the areas of airline, passenger, cargo, concessionaires, staff and public in general. We have increased concessionaires on the upper floor of the departure lounge, including new shops, enhanced entertainment, Wifi services and new seating is expected to arrive end of June 2018. When choosing concessionaires to occupy the new space we have set criteria which ensures that the ambiance and services provided to passengers set a high standard in terms of variety, quality and value. We partnered with Priority Pass which provides executive lounge services worldwide to complement the VIP services offered at our Executive Lounge on the second floor. This cozy lounge provides the privacy, comfort and pampering which helps to relieve the hustle and bustle normally associated with air travel for customers.
We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the experience at our airport. This includes the addition of a state of the art training facility to serve staff and other stakeholders. In our Arrivals area, we have added new booths for the Immigration Officers and self-check in kiosks for nationals. Next we will be redesigning our Customs area to make it more passenger friendly and security will be enhanced by the addition of new and modern xray screening machine.
Given the forecasted increase in passenger movement for the Caribbean Region over the next 5 years, there is an urgent need for us to reinvent ourselves to increase capacity and provide a more customer appealing environment.
We realize that a fundamental shift needs to occur where the airport is no longer just an infrastructure provider for air transport but also aids in the development of an Airport City for every target user group, while maximizing airport retail and real estate management.
In the area of providing additional services to the public, we reopened our Waving Gallery and added art exhibitions there as a regular feature. On a regular basis new art is displayed in what is now rebranded as the Waving Art Gallery. During certain times of the year and in collaboration with destination management operatives, we host Meet & Greet welcome events in public spaces, based on various themes of the national festival being promoted. All this is done with the idea of transforming the airport into a place where it’s not just about travel but creating an environment where passengers, staff and stakeholders can have an enhanced local experience which assists in the promotion of the destination.
In the area of cargo facilitation, the Grenada Airports Authority, operators of MBIA have recently held forums to engage stakeholders to better understand the issues that they face and come up with solutions to address them. This has led to our recent acquisition of a high lift loader via our subsidiary company Aviation Services of Grenada Ltd., which has improved our ability to provide cargo services to larger aircraft like Boeing 767s. As a result of these consultations with stakeholders, we have also invested in a state of the art cargo scanner which allows us to move larger pallet loads for screening thus improving facilitation and efficiency without compromising security. Our next project involves the construction of a purpose built cargo facility designed to meet industry standards for cargo operations.
In order for all of the enhancements to have maximum impact and exceed customer expectations we must simultaneously embark on customer service training for all persons involved in the experience chain. From the first point of contact with either an operator over the telephone, a parking attendant or a security officer until the point of departure where one interacts with an airline attendant or ground handler. Employee motivation and stakeholder participation are also critical to the success to these overall initiatives.