New Airport Insider

New Airport Insider is an online magazine for forward thinking airport professionals and engineers. Led by a team of experienced airport professionals, New Airport Insider offers insights into the most relevant airport issues, emerging technologies, trends, and companies, and the opportunities that they create for airports.

Open Skies: What U.S. Airlines Really Want

US open skiesThe Beginning: Open Skies, An American Initiative

In 1992, Jeff Shane (currently General Counsel at the International Air Transport Association and then a senior official in the United States Department of Transportation) negotiated the first “open skies” agreement with The Netherlands.  As odd as it may seem now, the reaction to this development (after people asked “what is open skies?”) was largely negative.

Why, many people, including many airline executives, asked would we sign such an agreement with a place like that.  “We have literally dozens of cities one might fly into in the United States,” (never mind that international traffic was then heavily concentrated in just a few gateways), people said.  “There is really only one city in The Netherlands anyone in the U.S. would want to fly to.  This agreement seems terribly unbalanced, a giveaway.”  This is the sort of thing that was heard over and over in those days.

What the critics didn’t fully understand at first was that the U.S. government had a strategy in mind.  The critics did not understand that this was but the first is a series of agreements to be negotiated across the globe as part of an effort to blow open a highly restricted international aviation market.  And that, if the United States was successful, then surely others would follow resulting in a new era of global choice and competition for travelers and shippers.

In the years since, the United States has negotiated 111 such agreements, with nations large and small.  The U.S. has been open to signing agreements with nearly any willing partner.  One aviation industry insider even joked that if the Pope had a plane, the U.S. would negotiate open skies with the Vatican.

In time, more liberal agreements were being negotiated around the world by all sorts of countries.  When something like open skies wasn’t available, countries were still willing to liberalize their markets to some extent (as happened with the 1998 U.S. – Japan agreement, a development I participated in as an industry representative and which resulted in a nearly 40% increase in the size of the U.S. – Japan market).

In the United States, this policy has been hugely successful, helping bring international service to a growing number of American cities and, through the power of imitation, has resulted in a global air transportation system more liberal than any dared imagine a generation ago.  NO ONE truly wants to squander these gains.  Even the carriers pushing the open skies with the Gulf carriers the loudest.

Obviously, some nations, and some airlines, have made better use of this new regime than others; that is the nature of the beast.  The United States has greatly expanded service to and from a number of countries, and many American cities that did not previously have international service were able to get it.  The airport community in particular played a huge role in promoting these developments (airlines promoted them when a particular airline wanted to get into a certain country, or expand its offerings, while other airlines would oppose certain agreements if they weren’t interested or, more likely, if they had a nice little monopoly under the old regime and wanted to keep it.  In which case, they accused the U.S. government of giving away the store.  A bit more history to keep in mind).

In 1993, the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry, which was made up of key aviation, business, government and labor leaders essentially endorsed the open skies approach in its report (Disclosure:  I served as Executive Director and wrote the report).  This report became the basis for the official U.S. government aviation policy that was developed in the time after that report.  (Given my role on the commission, I unofficially consulted with the government while the policy was being formed).  This seemed to put an end to the debate over whether open skies was a good idea.

Until now.

US Airlines Were For Open Skies Before They Were Against Open Skies

The three largest U.S. airlines:  Delta, United and American, have launched a campaign to reassess the open skies arrangements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.  Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates have become so successful as international carriers, being held up as models of service and style; that they are now seen as threats to the U.S. airlines.  To make matters more interesting, these airlines have consciously set themselves up to operate a global hub and spoke system, similar to that pioneered by U.S. airlines in our domestic market after reauthorization, but with a worldwide reach.

Qatar Airways U.S. Route Map

Qatar Airways U.S. Route Map

Etihad Route Map

Etihad Airways U.S. Route Map

Emirates U.S. Route Map

Emirates Airlines U.S. Route Map

More to the point, they are also a convenient (and politically potent) way for U.S. carriers to argue that U.S. government policy puts our carriers at a disadvantage they cannot overcome. They argue that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are supportive of their carriers in a way the U.S. government is not, and that this will cost U.S. jobs and the place of our carriers in global education.  At one time, the argument made by U.S. airline executives was that the U.S. government should do the same for them.  Indeed, I have even heard executives from U.S. airlines state that they wish their government would support them the way the governments in Qatar and the UAE support their airlines.  Finally having concluded that this argument was not going to gain traction, the airline executives are now arguing that open skies with Qatar and the UAE gives their carriers an unfair advantage.  They have even commissioned a slick and lengthy “White Paper” on the subject; full of footnotes and soundbites.  And, even after having to retreat over impolitic comments by the CEO of Delta, they seem to have a little bit of momentum.  So, it is important to understand what they are doing, and what they hope to accomplish.

What’s in the Open Skies White Paper, What’s Not and Why

First of all, as already mentioned, the White Paper is slick and well put together.  It is written by smart and credible people. It is very careful in what it alleges, and in what it doesn’t.  It hits certain key points, while ignoring others.  You might get the impression reading it that the three airlines are only ordering Airbus planes, for example, the word Boeing doesn’t seem to appear.  The paper never really comes out and says the three airlines and two countries are violating the open skies agreement, because they are not.

Any industry figure who wanted to pick it apart could do so.  The paper alleges the two governments subsidize their airlines because they do not charge enough for their airports.  As a former President of Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), that one nearly made me fall off my chair.  Airlines are always complaining that airports need to charge less and less; the amount can never be low enough.  And in the United States, last time I calculated it, airlines pay less than a third of the capital and operating costs of airports.  No matter, where you stand depends on where you sit, as they say, and the argument that Gulf region airlines do not pay “enough” for airport infrastructure is strongly made.  There is even a complaint that the airports in Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi do not charge connecting passengers their equivalent of what we in the U.S. call a passenger facility charge, or PFC.  Never mind that then PFC equivalent in those airports is about $20 US (in the United States it is capped at $4.50) and that almost no airports in Canada (as one example) charge connecting passengers the equivalent fee.

There is no mention of the fact that many U.S. open skies agreements around the world resulted in about the most uncompetitive thing you can think of:  anti-trust immunity for major carriers from each country, arrangements that all three of the major U.S. international carriers benefit from.

There is no mention of the system of government grants and tax breaks, at the federal, state and local levels that benefit U.S. airlines, their passengers and the airports they serve.

There is no mention of U.S. bankruptcy laws, which most in the world including in Europe view as a form of state aid, and through the use of which all three major U.S. international carriers have shed billions of costs and obligations and without which none of them would have survived.

There is no mention of developments in China, for example.  According to The Economist the Chinese are building an airport and surrounding aerotropolis from scratch in an inland provincial capital called Zhengzhou, with ambitions that this airport will have five runways and handle 70 million passengers (equivalent to Heathrow today) by 2030.  Clearly, not all of those 70 million people are going to/from Zhengzhou and the planned airport will serve as an Asian hub for Chinese carriers.  Granted we do not have an “open skies” agreement with China, but the principle still holds.  Yet, China is a lucrative future market for our carriers and there will be little or no appetite for upsetting that apple cart.

In other words, this very clever paper, while quite well done and persuasive to the inexperienced eye, has a fair number of holes in it.  This fact has caused some to sputter, and some to reach for a strong drink. Blood pressures are on the rise.  It is even being pointed out that Qatar and the UAE are important factors in U.S. policy on such key issues as ISIS, Iran and Yemen; so there seems little chance the administration will poke its fingers in the figurative eyes of these countries right now.  So I think it is important to understand why this effort is being undertaken.

For the sake of balance and full disclosure we have added information from those who put the white paper together in the accompanying box.

US open skies

Who is the US Open Skies White Paper For?

To begin, it is important to understand the audience for this white paper, and this campaign.  It is not aviation experts.  The audience is not an academic one, this is not an academic paper.  The audience is editorial writers and reporters.  It is public officials and their staffs.  It is the 2016 political campaign already beginning in earnest in the United States.  If you think the audience is an expert one, you will think the paper is not up to standard.  If you understand the audience is a political one, you will see that it is quite clever.

Remember what I said earlier.  The argument about the Gulf carriers has been made by U.S. airlines and their labor groups for some time now.  They understand that these carriers have an effective business strategy, and that they cannot match the level of service and, frankly, elegance, offered by these carriers.  The argument used to be that these carriers are fortunate to have governments who understand that their airlines are a national asset and act accordingly, and that the U.S. government ought to emulate them.  As this effort to change U.S. government policy did not work, the argument is now being turned around to say that these two nations are behaving unfairly, depriving U.S. carriers of opportunities and U.S. workers of jobs, and so the U.S. government needs to change its policy to account for that.

While I am certain that news of the U.S. government renouncing these agreements would be greeted joyfully in the boardrooms of Delta, United and American; and that news of a request for re-negotiation or even consultation would be most welcome; I think the real goal is to influence the FAA Reauthorization legislation that will be considered by Congress this year (there is a deadline of 30 September to reauthorize the agency, including the taxes and fees that fund it and the aviation system in this country).  U.S. airlines have pointed out, with some reason to be fair, that the current system of a dozen and a half taxes and fees that fund the system is not terribly efficient, is more costly than it needs to be, and should be modernized.  And if the system were modernized, we could have a more efficient system that would cost the airlines less.  As a secondary strategy, I also believe U.S. airlines are using this campaign as a way of explaining why they could never offer service as pleasant and luxurious as the Gulf carriers – it simply costs too much.  The message here is that such service is simply not possible in a fair and open economic environment.

Still, in my mind, the main element of their strategy is to influence the debate over the FAA authorization legislation and to gain sympathy for the argument that U.S. government policy leaves U.S. airlines at a competitive disadvantage in the world, and that our policies and laws must change.  The strategy is largely about obtaining a more favorable regime of aviation taxes and fees (as is the U.S. airline strategy toward the future of the air traffic control system in this country, but that is a subject for another time).

Is US Open Skies Policy in Danger?

As written earlier, the deadline for this legislation is 30 September of 2015.  But it is important to recall that last time around the law was finally reauthorized four and a half years after the initial deadline, and after 23 temporary extensions.  My somewhat educated guess is that we will need an extension or two before a final law is passed, quite likely lasting well into 2016.  So be prepared for more white papers, television commercials, overheated rhetoric and political pressure on the issue of U.S. open skies policy.  By the time the law is fully reauthorized, we will have had our fill of all that.  The airlines either will, or will not, get some traction on their taxes and fees argument (I predict they will get some traction but not as much as they would like).  They may or may not get something in the legislation calling for consultations or re-negotiation with Qatar and the UAE  “I predict consultations.  Already the U.S. Departments of Transportation, State and Commerce have opened a file on the matter and requested industry and public comment”.

But U.S. open skies policy will remain intact.

Image credits: Delta Airlines and American Airlines by Chris Lundberg via Flickr, Qatar Airways route map via Qatar Airways website, Etihad route map via Etihad website, Emirates route map via Emirates website and Restoring Open Skies via layovers.to 

Editor’s Note:
We did not publish in March, our apologies. The Editor wears many hats and New Airport Insider is migrating to a new more powerful web platform to deliver a better user experience.  I hope this will not happen again as we grow our blogger team. Thank you for reading New Airport Insider.  Jinan

This is How Heathrow Airport Innovates

Heathrow Airport IT Editor’s note: We are excited to bring you a new series featuring insights from Heathrow Airport exclusively on New Airport Insider. Today’s post introduces Heathrow’s internal process and upcoming ones will cover projects delivered by the innovation team.

In this new series by Heathrow Airport’s IT Innovation team, we will share with you how we operate and provide context as to why Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAL) formed an Airport IT Innovation team. Also, introduce our mission, goals and detail processes and practices. The posts will be written by different members of the Innovation department and we will go into detail about some of the initiatives we have been working on.

Overview

Heathrow needs no introduction. It handles 73 million passengers per year and runs at 99% capacity across 2 runways. Our groups’ mission is to “make every journey better” to become a world class airport. To achieve this, we continually leverage new and innovative approaches to ensure our operation delivers exceptionally high levels of passenger experiences.

How It Started

Since we already delivered large-scale engineering projects, from building award-winning terminals to re-laying the runways, our planning and programme governance practices were already geared around delivery of large scale projects. And in 2012, our Chief Information Officer (CIO) Neil Clark made the decision to develop an innovation capability that would work closely with the business to understand and deliver solutions more effectively.

Starting with a small group of 3, the first challenge was to build support across the entire organisation. This was done through delivering smaller scale wins to build momentum and immediately demonstrate the team’s benefits.

Initially, the goals were to:

  • Drive effective business case development through trialling and testing initiatives to provide the evidence to prove the business benefit.
  • Engage with colleagues and partners and provide an environment to enable them to innovate
  • Bring “lean” and “art of the possible” thinking to all business challenges
  • Be able to identify, embrace and provide potential solutions based on new and emerging technologies

In the first months, we gave careful consideration as to how to create the “right” type of culture that allows innovation to succeed. As you would expect, Heathrow is geared towards managing risk and driving operational efficiencies. This is done with a successful Continuous Improvement programme, however it was clear more needed to be done to enable an innovation ethos.

The key to the team’s early success was creating an environment where the right levels of support were given, and in developing a culture where it was acceptable to try, and in some cases fail (as long as it was done quickly and with the learnings shared in a comfortable environment). So support from the senior team was garnered through forming an Innovation Steering Group (ISG), chaired by the CIO but also alongside exec members from Commercial, Operations and Communications teams.

The innovation team specifically focused on meeting business challenges and not simply adding shiny new pieces of technology. This was crucial for two reasons:

  1. We didn’t want to simply push new technologies for the sake of it.
  2. By targeting business challenges, we ensured that if we successfully found innovative solutions, there was a greater chance that there would be support from the business for the operational development costs.

The Process

The process is formed around a classic funnel where challenges and ideas are collected on the left. Then by using a series of lightweight tools (shown at the bottom), the team is able to rapidly triage this large group in order to leave a subset that are then moved through the phases.

Heathrow Airport Innovation Process

Challenges are collected in a variety of ways, from entries to either our global innovation competition, or smaller challenges with people emailing us or suggesting ideas to us in our roles. By far the most successful way of collecting ideas has been through challenge-gathering sessions held by the team. These are 90 minute facilitated sessions, where we ask representatives from business units across Heathrow to tell us about their challenges. We ask questions like, “What keeps you awake at night?”, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you ask yourself ‘if I could only change that, this would be so much easier?” or “what missing piece of data would transform the ability to do your role?”.

Collect

Once challenges are collected, metrics are used to score and prioritise. To make scoring less biased, we ask colleagues from around the department and the wider business units to join in this process. Then we use a short Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13), which helps in emphasising positive outcomes, to score each challenge.

Shape and Amplify

If a challenge scores above a certain threshold, we assign a resource from the team to begin to “Shape and Amplify” by using some lightweight tools, for example a vision card. A vision card is a one-page document that collates information about the challenge (detailed description, success criteria, sponsor, champion, business benefit, etc.). This enables the Innovation Steering Group (ISG) to make an informed decision on whether to move the challenge forward to an innovation trial of some sort.

Prove

The “Proving” stage may take the form of a Proof of Concept (POC) trial, or a piece of detailed research. So the team takes whatever steps are necessary to deliver the insight required to proceed with a business case to full project funding.

Realise

This can mean developing an app, manufacturing a new device, borrowing technology or changing an existing process.  Whatever the trial or POC requires, the aim is to demonstrate a clear understanding of the measured benefits we’ll achieve and the challenges we will face in implementing the technology.

Final Thought

In delivering Innovation in Heathrow, one key lesson learned has been the importance of providing a variety of approaches to engage with colleagues and partners. We try to make sure that everybody knows where and how they can come to us to talk about innovation. And we run technology showcases, deliver lectures, write papers, attend workshops.

Also, by starting with the goal of solving a real business challenge and creating new value through a product or service, we can instigate and engage in brilliant conversations.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this post. In upcoming posts, we will introduce to you some initiatives and the challenges delivered in the last few years.

Photo credit: By 5cantonas via Flickr

Airport Survey

In collaboration with ADB Airfield Solutions, we are conducting a short online survey to identify top issues that concern airports and key priorities for 2015. The survey results will be published on both websites in May 2015 and all data collected will remain confidential. Will you take the survey?

Aviation Security: Why I Will Be Scared This Year

Aviation Security

Catchy title?

Yes, I am more afraid in 2015 than I have been in years.  But afraid of what?  Am I afraid of ISIS/ISIL?  AQAP?  Al Shabaab?  Al Qaeda?  Al Nusra?  Lone wolf terrorists?

No.  Not afraid of any of them. That does not mean I do not consider them dangerous, they are. That does not mean I do not consider them evil, they are. That does not mean that I think we ought to ease up on any of them, we should not.

What I fear is this:  In America, certainly, and in many other places too, we have developed a level of obsession with terrorism that can spawn (and is spawning) an overreaction.  Our media is obsessed.  Many of our political leaders are obsessed (and often attack others who are less obsessed).  And our people are obsessed.

Several writers over the years have said that terrorism only works if we allow ourselves to become, and act, terrorized.  Once we do that, we are giving the terrorists exactly what they want.  Well, in America and elsewhere, that has long since happened.  Even as all those groups I listed above have faced setbacks and had leaders killed, they are succeeding in the only thing that really matters:  terrorizing people.  Even when they fail, as they do far more often than not, they succeed in scaring us.

It seems one can’t go more than two days without some sort of CNN “Breaking News” item saying, essentially, that bad guys still want to attack aviation.  I don’t know about you, but I doubt we will see any Breaking News stories about terrorists retiring to the Riviera.  Of course they still want to attack aviation.  That will never end, will never go away.

I am amazed at how many interviews I have seen regarding the topic of whether ISIS is going to attack in the United States.  (And I saw another within two hours of typing that sentence).  They are clearly hoping to inspire someone here to do something awful, much as Anwar Al Awlaki did.  I am sure they aspire to attack the homeland themselves.  Heck, they aspire to a global caliphate, so of course they’d kinda like to attack here.

So every time an interview like that airs, usually right after some mention of the barbarous nature of ISIS, we are immediately tempted to believe we are in imminent personal danger of a similar fate.  Then we have public officials, or former public officials, willing to go on television and say we are not as safe as we can and should be.  And, in the absence of any contrary narrative, the fear level increases.

In and of itself, this wouldn’t be so bad.  But added to that, we have the intense coverage of every security “breach”, whether some kid who wandered through a hole in a fence or even an old lady who likes to try to stow away (both real life examples).  The inevitable result is indignant public officials and “experts” talking about how unsafe the aviation system is, and then proposing all sorts of ideas designed to make it “safer.”

In the United States recently, some idiots who work at the airport were found smuggling firearms on a flight from Atlanta to New York.  This, naturally, led to congressional hearings and calls for all sorts of “security measures” that would actually make us less safe, rather than more.  (What amuses me about this particular story more than anything is the fact that moving firearms this way is probably the riskiest method from the point of view of the smuggler.  If they put them in a truck, or on a bus they would have had a far better chance of success.  Getting caught, eventually, doing it the way they did it is almost guaranteed).

For years, when I was President of Airports Council International – North America, my members and I called for more of a risk-based approach to security.  Rather than treating everyone and everything as a potential threat, let’s try to narrow it down and focus more on those people and things that might actually pose a problem.  The challenge always was the fact that all the political pressure goes in the other direction.  There is no real political or public pressure for what some would see, or define, as “less security” or “doing” less – even when the result is a MORE secure system.  Moves that seemed to make perfect sense to us were resisted because of this countervailing political pressure.

Luckily, though, for the aviation system and for travelers everywhere, we had leadership at the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security that was willing to move in this direction.  The resulting initiatives, such as PreCheck, Global Entry and Automated Passport Control, have been a great success in facilitating legitimate travel while focusing resources where they are most needed.

Another example of such an effort predates all of those:  the U.S. Visa Waiver program.  Visitors from certain countries, including many NATO allies, can come to the United States without a visa, though they need to provide certain information about themselves so they can be checked.  With documented cases of Canadians and Western Europeans and others traveling to Syria to fight with ISIS, there are growing calls to reconsider this initiative.  And I am concerned that those calls will extend to the very popular and effective programs mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

That is what scares me.  If we back away from these kinds of initiatives we will not only restrict travel but we will create logjams at and near airports that will provide target rich environments for anyone with a gun for a crude explosive device.

I fear that we in the United States are about to take a step back from what makes sense, and what has largely worked, in order to react (overreact) to sensational stories.  I fear it will happen, because it is happening.  And lest you think this is just an American story, remember that in the security realm almost everything we do here gets exported in some way, if only because other gateways want to preserve their access to the U.S. market.

So, yes, I am very afraid.  I am afraid that we have lost the ability to avoid being terrorized by every incident.  I am afraid we will be unable to resist calls for “more security” that will in the end make us less safe and make far less efficient use of scarce resources.  I am afraid that we will make some really bad choices this year, choices that will be exported around the world.  I am afraid our media and our public leaders have lost the ability to tell what should truly be breaking news and what should be a threat calling for new measures and new policies, and what should not.

One of my closest friends in the airport world, Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe, once said that if we wait till the bad guys get to the airport to try to catch them it is likely too late.  The real hard work happens far from the front door of the airport, it happens in intelligence agencies around the world whose agents risk life and limb to get good information and then share it.  We can cripple an airport operationally by intrusive procedures, we can travel scared of something that is far less likely to happen to any of us than is winning an Olympic medal or even being struck by lightning.

When we do those things, ISIS, AQAP, Al Shabaab, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda and potential lone wolves everywhere smile and become energized.  Our fear, and the fear mongering we often see on television and hear from too many public leaders, is the oxygen that sustains them.

Let’s refuse to let them breathe.

Photo credit: by zefrog via Flickr

Indonesia Airports Build: Why a Second Jakarta Airport

Jakarta Airports

Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport is one of the most congested airports in the world. As explained in part one, the largest Indonesian airport has failed to cope with passenger growth and will continue to do so in the future. This means that Jakarta is in desperate need of a second large airport to cope with future growth.

Presently, downtown Halim Perdanakusuma Airport is used to relief Soekarno-Hatta, but with very limited capacity and limited space for expansion. Therefore a complete new greenfield airport is seen as the best solution. Located further away from the city centre, such a new airport will not only serve the Indonesian capital, but also the densely populated areas of the adjacent Banten and West Java provinces.

Multiple large greenfield airport projects are in various stages of development. There are Karawang Airport and Kertajati Airport east of Jakarta, and Lebak south of Jakarta. Karawang and Lebak are seen as the best options to complement Soekarno-Hatta, but contrary to Kertajati Airport, actual construction work is yet to start. Karawang Airport is even blocked by the West Java Province as it will be competing with Kertajati Airport.

Halim Airport: the Old Jakarta Gateway

In January 2014 Halim Airport was reopened for domestic operations to reduce pressure on Soekarno-Hatta. Garuda Indonesia’s low-cost subsidiary Citilink is currently the only user that actually moved operations away from Soekarno-Hatta to the previous international gateway of Jakarta. Due to the limited amount of available slots and the requirement to split operations between two airports, Garuda Indonesia, AirAsia Indonesia and Lion Air all cancelled their plans to operate from Halim.

Yet in October 2014, Lion Group announced that they will invest $436 million in the airport to develop a new terminal, capable of handling up to 12 million passengers per year, and other facilities such as taxiways and aprons. There are also plans to build a monorail to downtown Jakarta. Halim will serve as a base for Lion Air’ full service subsidiary Batik Air with construction work on the terminal expansion  to be finished by July 2015.

In 2006 Lion Group already saw potential in Halim Airport, with subsidiary PT Angkasa Transportindo Selares securing a 25-year lasting concession for its commercial operations. Though state-owned airport operator AP II was assigned to manage the Indonesian Air Force owned airport when it re-opened in January 2014. When Lion Group wanted to start making use of its concession, the Supreme Court had to order AP II  to hand over the management of Halim to Lion Group.

Despite Lion Group’s expansion of the airport, Halim is doomed to remain a secondary airport only. The airport is located just 10km from the centre of Jakarta, and is surrounded by an expanding city (see above image). Further, there is no room for extensive expansion beyond its current single runway, and only limited space for terminal expansion. Moreover, environmental and social considerations are a major issue in the operation and expansion of Halim Airport.

Lion Group Secures Own Airport Infrastructure

Just a few weeks after the announcement of Lion’s plans for Halim Airport, the airline group confirmed plans for a new large airport just south of Jakarta in Lebak, part of the Banten Province.  Construction is to begin in 2015 with first operations to start in 2018 – an ambitious goal for a large greenfield airport project. The airport is planned to reach a capacity of up to 50 million passengers per year and will serve as the main hub for no-frills airline Lion Air, replacing Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Lion Group CEO Rusdi Kirana commented in November 2014 that they received initial approval from the Transportation Ministry to develop a new four-runway airport in the Lebak Regency. One of its runways will be able to handle the Airbus 380 in the light of a potential partnership with a  Gulf carrier (Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways), though no concrete plans have been made about such a partnership. Lion Group plans to break ground in 2015 on a site of 600 hectares it already owns.

The airport is also intended to become the largest cargo airport in Indonesia, serving as a multimodal hub for the domestic market. The airport site which will eventually be as large as 5,500 hectares – two times the size of Soekarno-Hatta Airport – will include warehouse facilities, wholesale distribution centers, a commercial zone for shopping and a fast train connection to Jakarta.

For the new Lebak airport, Lion Group will source private funding as it is not subject to state-funding. The airline group is planning to sell 30% of its share in one of Indonesia’s largest IPO’s (Initial Public Offering) in 2016. This IPO is intended to raise about $820 million to partly fund the new airport project. Other unknown companies will also be involved in a new consortium to help fund the airport.

Conflict Over Competing West Java Airports

East of Jakarta there are plans for two other major airports, Karawang International Airport and Kertajati International Airport. Karawang is the preferred option for both the national government and the city of Jakarta. The estimated catchment area of Karawang has a large overlap of about forty percent with that of Soekarno-Hatta. In other words, Karawang could take over a large share of the demand in Eastern Jakarta to relieve Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Kertajati Airport which is located further to the east has an estimated overlap with Soekarno-Hatta of just 2%, with Greater Jakarta completely outside the catchment area of this airport. Therefore Kertajati will not be able to take over an adequate share of Soekarno-Hatta’s traffic.

Airport Jakarta

Though Kertajati Airport is the preferred project of the West Java Province government. West Java’s government is pushing to increase airport capacity in the important metropolitan area of Bandung, where Kertajati Airport will be built. However Karawang and Kertajati share a significant part of their catchment area and according to West Java there is room for only one large airport in that region and therefore sees Karawang as a major threat.

Karawang Airport, which will be funded by the independent Japanese government agency Japan International Cooperation Agency, still needs permission from the local government of West Java to start construction. The latter applies the brakes to ensure his favorite Kertajati airport gets ahead: it could easily take until 2017 before Karawang airport receives governmental approval.

Meanwhile plans for West Java’s Kertajati have been accelerated and expanded when the first phase’ target doubled in size, aiming at a capacity of 24 million passengers per year and up to 500,000 tons of cargo. With operations planned to start in 2018, West Java wants to make sure Kertajati airport starts operations before Karawang so that it has a first-mover advantage. Kertajati Airport is planned to expand to a capacity of 40 million by 2035.

Plans for Karawang International Airport are to reach a capacity of up to 70 million passengers, with 4 runways. Although expanding airport capacity in the Eastern Jakarta region is a key project, the protective attitude of West Java towards Kertajati brings the Karawang project in jeopardy. And while the construction of Karawang Airport was planned to start in 2015, it is very unlikely that this deadline will be met. Meanwhile, construction on Kertajati Airport’s first runway is underway (with South Korean construction group Samsung C&T being involved since summer 2014 to ensure the smooth development of the project).

Why Airport Development Remains Uncertain

Karawang Airport and Lion Group’s new Lebak airport are 2 greenfield projects that could solve the capacity shortages in the region, though both are still in the planning phase.

Lebak airport is planned to be operational by 2018, ambitious for a greenfield project of this size as construction will only start in late in 2015. And Karawang Airport is blocked by West Java because of conflicting interests with Kertajati Airport.

Regional interests conflicting with national projects are daily business in Indonesia and a major reason for the current problematic state of its infrastructure.

Lion Group could actually prove to offer the best solution by moving away from Soekarno-Hatta as one of its main customers, and securing its own airport capacity in Halim and Lebak.

It is striking that a private airline group has to develop its own airport capacity to overcome problems caused by a failed airport strategy by AP II and the Indonesian governments. Lion Group seems to succeed in turning this problem into a commercial opportunity and at the same time gaining a competitive advantage over airlines that remain dependent on Soekarno-Hatta.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter. You can also use hashtag #newairportinsider

Photo credits: Halim Perdanakusuma Airport by Marina Lystseva and West Java map by Clyde & Co (Michael S. Horn).

References:
Lion to spend $436m to take over Halim airport
Lion Air plans IPO for new airport
Caution Over Lion Group’s Lebak Airport Plan
A new Jakarta airport:Taking flight or grounded by delay?
Competition accelerates Kertajati airport schedule

A-CDM in Europe: Is the Ball Rolling?

A-CDMIn the course of one month, the ECAC zone could add 3 more Airport Collaborative Decision Making airports to its list of 12 in 2014. Latest to join was London Gatwick Airport on November 7th, and early October we welcomed Milano Malpensa Airport as Italy’s second, and Stuttgart Airport as Germany’s 5th addition already. Benefiting from lessons learned and thanks to German A-CDM procedure harmonization, Stuttgart pulled its project off in just over one year.

It looks like we are eventually picking up the required implementation pace. Can we do better? Definitely; many airports do have an A-CDM project in the pipeline, and many others should have, by now..

Airport CDM

From the Benches to the Trenches

All too many skeptics have been pointing fingers to Eurocontrol for this unconvincing implementation rate, but let’s be realistic here: one cannot expect the organisation to steer 10 or 15 projects simultaneously and guide every individual airport through the concept elements, preventing them from sitting back and relaxing until the next discussion round.

But more and more fingers are pointing in the direction of trade organisations and industry bodies like IATA, CANSO, ACI, … who excel in circumlocutory statements and press releases on collaborative decision making, but still haven’t rolled up their sleeves and stepped into the field to actually listen to the concerns of A-CDM stakeholders. Well, at least I have been around for 4 years in the Brussels Airport A-CDM program, and yes, as an A-CDM advocate, I have expressed the concerns of the community on quite a few public speaking occasions, but I don’t remember any of the aforementioned bodies stepping in or offering advice afterwards.

I’m asking myself if they are aware of their mitigating role in ongoing discussions and misunderstandings about the very core of the collaboration concept of A-CDM that are still haunting us after all those years

Airport CDM

Change Ahead?

To my pleasant surprise, a pertinent question was asked by someone from IATA in the ‘A-CDM at airports’ group on LinkedIn: “What can Eurocontrol, IATA, ACI, … do better to optimize implementation and delivery of benefits?”. So, it ís realised that there are ‘some issues’ with having the A-CDM concept adopted by the aviation industry… and I consider this to be a modest breakthrough. So I engaged with a counter question: ‘the one who only does what he has been doing will only get what he has always gotten, so what about some thinking outside the box and reaching out to the practitioners out there?’

My question was left unanswered, but for starters, I was happy to be able to take the conversation off line and elaborate on the chasm between boardroom A-CDM and the actual thing; issues which I will not withhold you, but which deserve a separate -and upcoming- blog post.

A-CDM

and Change Ahead?

Some weeks ago, I was invited by DLR to assist in a debate at the Airport IT 2014 conference on the importance of joint airport stakeholder decision making in future concepts such as Total Airport Management, for which A-CDM is a prerequisite (so this was me, arguing that A-CDM is approached too system-centric, in front of a fine selection of airport IT providers…).

Lots of buzz on ‘collaboration’ during the coffee breaks, and the word -again to my pleasant surprise- trickled down into many a slick airport tech-and-tool presentation. Yes, the success of an A-CDM project is measured by the transparency of its cross-stakeholder procedures rather than the performance of its tools.

Now, let us step up in the pursuit of the customer intimacy factor in project implementation and reach out to the practitioners to not only provide a system and bail out, but to make it actually happen and install a culture of sustained stakeholder engagement on those A-CDM airports to-be

… because an ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory.

What’s your take on this issue? Besides a healthy dose of experience, what more is needed to gain momentum for A-CDM implementation? And how do we approach the powerhouses of the industry to get them rolling up their sleeves.

Look out for upcoming posts on A-CDM implementation and challenges. Meanwhile, I invite you to enjoy the extraordinary pictures from Vitor Azevedo. Vitor is on the push back team of Swissport at Brussels Airport, but might as well be a professional photographer. Have a look at www.brusselstarmac.be

Season’s Greetings from New Airport Insider

New Airport Insider

As 2014 wraps up, I want to share with you a few things.

We are proud to be referenced on the 21st of December in FinanceAsia.com, paragraph before last. The only thing, they referred to us as an airline magazine.

Press mention

Further, here are the 3 most read articles, all time.
No. 3 Australia Airports Build: The Other End of the Line by Dan Parsons
No. 2 Incheon Airport South Korea Evaluates European A-CDM by Kris de Bolle
No. 1 Introduction to Airport Planning: The Master Plan by David Ruiz-Celada

And here are the links to all the articles we have published, by category:
U.S. Aviation by Greg Principato
A-CDM by Kris de Bolle
Australia Airports Build by Dan Parsons
Airport Wildlife Risk by Dan Parsons
Safety Assurance by Dan Parsons
China Airports Build by Guillaume Dupont
Turkey Airports Build by Guillaume Dupont
Indonesia Airports Build by Guillaume Dupont & Maxim Roelen
Planning and Development by David Ruiz-Celada
New Airport Insider news by Jinan Alrawi

Last but not least, the New Airport Insider team wishes your family and you a warm holiday and a superb 2015!

Thank you for being here and we will back with a new post on the 14th of January 2015.

Photo credit: by Marianne DeSelle via Flickr

Airport Survey

In collaboration with ADB Airfield Solutions, we are conducting a short online survey to identify top issues that concern airports and key priorities for 2015. The survey results will be published on both websites in May 2015 and all data collected will remain confidential. Will you take the survey?

Indonesia Airports Build: What You Need to Know

Jakarta AirportEditor’s note: As some of you know, we like to give aspiring aviation professionals a voice as part of our Generation Y feature. So today we have Maxim Roelen who is writing a 2-part series on Indonesia airports focusing on the situation in Jakarta. 

Jakarta is the beating heart of Indonesia’s aviation market, one easily forgotten, but it is growing at a dazzling speed. IATA expects Indonesia to become the sixth largest air passenger market in the world and the fifth largest domestic market by 2034. But not all is so rosy in Jakarta.

Indonesia’s largest carriers Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air are planning massive growth, focusing at the highly congested Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport. Despite tremendous growth, Jakarta and Indonesia have failed to expand airport capacity. Real solutions stay behind and airlines are worried about their planned expansion with already hundreds of aircraft on order.

Earlier this year, Guillaume Dupont wrote about the capacity constraints in Jakarta (Indonesia Airports Build: Jakarta Airport Failure) and those of Indonesia in general (Indonesia Airports Build: Overcrowding). In part 1, I will focus on the continuing capacity constraints at Soekarno-Hatta airport, and in part 2 on alternative airports.

An Explosive Growth in Indonesian Air Transport Market

In 2014 the Indonesian air transport market will exceed 100 million passengers, with yearly growth rates exceeding 10%, double the economic growth. IATA expects that by 2034 Indonesia will represent 270 million passengers, of which 191 million on the domestic market. High economic growth, a growing middle class and the ASEAN Single Aviation Market are the 3 main ingredients for Indonesia’s growth.

The growing ASEAN market will play a key role as of 2015. A partly deregulated market in Southeast Asia will allow more routes, higher frequencies and more competition. Ticket prices will likely drop, enabling more people to fly. After opposing the ASEAN single aviation market, Indonesia agreed in 2014 to open Jakarta for unlimited capital-to-capital flights.

Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Airport alone has been responsible for over 60% of Indonesia’s market. Including the broader surrounding region of Jakarta, it can be expected that it will represent 150 to 200 million passengers in 2034.

How Chronic is Airport Capacity Shortage?

As the primary Indonesian airport, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta handled not less than 60.1 million passengers in 2013, quite an achievement for an airport which was designed to handle just 22 million passengers.

Terminal expansion is being carried out as we speak, but too little, too late. Plans are to improve the airport experience and increase capacity to 62 million passengers per year, a project which will be finished in 2017 at the earliest, while actual traffic will already exceed the 62 million mark in 2014 and is expected to reach 80 million by 2020.

Airport expansion in Indonesia has been a matter of (late) reaction instead of coordinated planning and anticipation, causing a chronic shortage of airport capacity. This is not only the case in Jakarta, but also in the rest of the country as explained in the earlier article of Guillaume in May 2014.

Current alternatives for the highly congested Soekarno-Hatta Airport are basically non-existent, except for the small downtown airport of Halim which was reopened in January 2014 to civil traffic. So far only Citilink moved a limited amount of flights to this airport. Reopening of this airport was deemed a temporary solution, though the Lion Air Group is on the contrary betting for the long term on Halim. Halim Airport will be covered in more detail in part 2.

How Faulty is Soekarno-Hatta Expansion?

In 2013, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport was the tenth busiest airport in the world according to ACI, but probably the biggest example of how airport development can be a total failure.

State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II (AP II) failed to expand the airport to facilitate rapid growth. Numerous projects have been proposed over the past decade, but none finished so far.

Currently, Terminal 3 has a capacity of 4 million passengers, but by the end of 2015 the new expanded 380,000m2 facility should be able to handle 25 million annual passengers. The existing Terminal 3 will be an integrated part of the new U-shaped facility. Designed with the help of Seoul Incheon Airport consultants, this terminal is supposed to become the most modern and efficient airport terminal in Indonesia, a symbol for a modern and quickly evolving Indonesia. A great leap forward, even though Terminal 3 will not solve Soekarno-Hatta’s issues with its 25 million capacity.

Indonesia Airports

Also part of the $1.24 billion expansion plan of AP II is to expand the two original terminals.

Terminal 2 was built for 9 million passengers and will be expanded to handle 19 million passengers by 2016. Domestic Terminal 1 will be enlarged to handle 18 million passengers by 2017, up from its current capacity of 10 million. Both terminals will be connected with an integrated building which will house commercial zones, hotels and will be used as a ground transport hub for the airport. Drop-off zones for taxis and buses and 20,000 car parking lots are planned. An automated people mover will allow smooth transfers between terminals and a train connection to the city center is planned.

The whole refurbishment project is to be finished by 2020, though delays can be expected. Just 2 years have been foreseen for the expansion and complete refurbishment of Terminal 1 and 2 after the opening of the new Terminal 3 and a few more years to finish the massive integrator building, an ambitious undertaking for an airport that failed in expansion for more than a decade.

Even in an optimistic scenario of the whole project being finished on time, Soekarno-Hatta airport will still face a capacity shortage of about 20 million by 2020 (that is if no alternatives are found in the greater Jakarta region to cope with the projected growth). Possible alternative airports will be covered in part 2.

Airports in Indonesia

And a new Terminal 4 could further expand the airport’s capacity, but the opening is not expected until beyond 2021. Tri Sunoko, President of AP II, says this terminal will have a capacity of 18 to 20 million. That will raise the airport’s capacity to 80-82 million, a number that will already be reached by 2020 before the potential opening of Terminal 4.

How Important is a Third Runway?

Besides restricted terminal capacity, another major issue is runway capacity. The capacity of the existing two runways was raised from 64 to 72 aircraft per hour in 2014, after reducing the aircraft occupancy time and improving navigation systems. The airport wants to push this even more by increasing the capacity to 86 aircraft per hour in 2015.

In 2013, Soekarno-Hatta already handled around 399,000 movements on its 2 runways. That equals almost 200,000 movements per runway, the highest number of the 20 busiest airports in North and Southeast Asia.

If Soekarno-Hatta wants to reach its ultimate capacity and grow beyond 87 million, to 100 million passengers per year, it needs a third runway. AP II hopes to start constructing this new 3,660 meter long runway as early as 2016. The US$ 350 million needed to clear land might be provided by the national government, despite current legislation not allowing this.

According to Indonesian Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono, building another runway is the only possible solution to accommodate further airport expansion. In the most optimistic situation the runway opens in 2017, though given the current state of the project this can easily be delayed to 2018-2019.

How will Jakarta Secure New Capacity?

Despite ongoing expansion, Soekarno-Hatta is not able to catch up with growing demand. An ultimate planned capacity of up to 100 million passengers at Soekarno-Hatta is clearly not enough to serve the needs of the Jakarta region in the coming 20 years.

If Jakarta and the densely-populated surrounding region want to secure airport capacity for the long term, it needs a second major airport with a similar capacity as Soekarno-Hatta Airport. A new airport located outside Greater Jakarta can partly serve the same market as Soekarno-Hatta, while also catching the growing markets in the adjacent West Java and Banten provinces. Suitable projects in West Java and Banten are being planned, but yet to be constructed.

A detailed analysis of potential relief airports such as Halim and planned large hub projects, and the problem of competition between proposed airports east of Jakarta will be addressed in part 2.

References 
New IATA Passenger Forecast Reveals Fast-Growing Markets of the Future
Soekarno Hatta International Airport Terminal 3 Winning Proposal
ACI 2013 World Airport Traffic Report
ASEAN’s single aviation market must gear up for new but harder phase
AP II secures loan to develop Soekarno-Hatta 

Photos: Soekarno-Hatta Airport by Marina Lystseva, T3 by Woodhead, Soekarno-Hatta future overview by AP II.

Airport Survey!

In collaboration with ADB Airfield Solutions, we are conducting a short online survey to identify top issues that concern airports and key priorities for 2015. The survey results will be published on both websites in May 2015 and all data collected will remain confidential. Will you take the survey?

Greg Principato Joins NASAO

U.S. AirportsAs I write this I am less than twelve hours away from starting a new chapter in my life as President and CEO of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, also known as NASAO.

NASAO is one of the oldest aviation organizations in the United States, having been founded in 1931 before there was any federal/national aviation agency.  Coincidentally, I will also be elected the next President of the Aero Club of Washington the following day.  The Aero Club was founded in 1909.  I love history and tradition and so it is humbling to be involved with both organizations.

NASAO will be my “real job.”  Its members are the men and women who run aviation offices in the 50 US states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico which are US territories.  In the American system, state governments have a great deal of responsibility for the promotion of economic growth and commerce.  State governments play a major role in transportation policy as well.

From 1986-1990 I held a senior position for the Governor of the US state of Virginia.  The Governor for whom I worked, Gerald L. Baliles, made transportation the keystone of his term in office, and he served a year as Chairman of the National Governors Association (among the Governors who elected him to that post was a Governor of Arkansas named Bill Clinton).  Indeed, a few years later, in 1993, President Clinton named Gov. Baliles to chair a presidential commission to examine US aviation policy, the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry.  The fact that the President named a former Governor to chair what was a very high profile commission is telling.  Indeed, the Commission was so high profile nearly all of our meetings were televised nationally.  This was a source of some amusement to our European colleagues who were running a similar effort called the Comité des Sages, which was also chaired by a political leader, Herman de Croo of Belgium.  The work of the US commission remains the basis for national aviation policy.

In the statement I made when I took the job I stated that states are “where it’s at” in the promotion of economic growth.  Members of Congress are normally better known than Governors, but it is state Governors whom voters often hold most responsible for local economic conditions.  My new members form an important part of state government efforts to promote economic activity, as well as aviation growth.  Many people also think state governments have little to do with the international scene. I believed that when I went to work for the Virginia Governor.  How wrong I was.  State Governors, in many ways, are important sources of energy and support for open trade policies and international economic engagement.

You might be interested to know that of the six US Presidents who have served during my more than 35 years in the Washington policy community, four of them were state Governors.  By contrast, the other two were George H.W. Bush who was the first Vice President to be directly elected President since 1836; and Barack Obama who was only the third US Senator to be directly elected to the Presidency in the last 100 years.

I am very excited to take on this challenge.  I will continue to write as I can for New Airport Insider, because I remain convinced that what the aviation industry needs is a new kind of engagement and the participation of new and interesting voices.

Image credit: Sergio Morchon via Flickr

Support New Airport Insider by becoming a benefactor. Contact us for details. 

Australia Airports Build: The Other End of the Line

Australia Airports

The focus of post 2 of this series was the pressure currently being placed on the Brisbane Airport in Australia, in part, from a type of mining operation known as FIFO. Obviously, for the FIFO concept to work there need to be airports at the other end of the sector and that is the topic of this post.

As introduced, FIFO (Fly-In-Fly-Out) is a resourcing tool for remote and regional mine sites to staff their operations from larger population bases and locations offering a better lifestyle.

As Australia’s resource sector took off in the mid-2000s, companies had to compete on more than wages to attract enough personnel to make their operations viable. By flying in staff from cities, companies had access to a large pool of recruits and workers had the ability to earn attractive incomes while their families maintained a comfortable lifestyle at home.

In order to facilitate this system, mines and other resource company locations needed an airstrip, aerodrome or airport, depending on the size of the operation.

Industry-wide Growth

A comparison of certified aerodrome numbers from 2004 to 2010 showed that the overall numbers of such aerodromes increased by 30%.

Comparison of Certified Aerodrome Numbers 2004-2010 Grouped by Operator Type

A deeper dive into the numbers shows that the relative percentage of aerodromes owned by resource companies grew in excess of the overall increase. Over this period, 19 aerodromes operated by resource companies entered the certified airport business, so to speak, and this presented challenges both in the ramp up and the ongoing operation of these facilities.

The Need to Build

While the economics of mine development are beyond the scope of this article, to a casual observer, the case for having an aerodrome on one’s mine site must have been strong. In areas with dense mining activity, it became normal to have upwards of five aerodromes/airports located within a 30 nautical mile radius.

In the image of the Leinster Area, Western Australia, below, the large red aircraft are certified aerodromes (not current) and the smaller aircraft are uncertified landing sites in support of other mines and remote farming stations.

Close Aerodromes

The proximity of the airport to the site or village would have an impact not only on the work periods and fatigue considerations of the company but also the amenity and comfort factors for the worker. At the height of the mining boom, worker attitude to a site’s facilities became an important factor for some as they had the pick of work sites and were happy to move sites at a whim.

In addition to the basic number of new certified aerodromes at mine sites, the size of some of these facilities became significant as the boom progressed. While many aerodromes grew from humble beginnings as emergency airstrips and may have only required some paperwork and no physical works to accommodate a Dash-8-200 (the general trigger for certification, i.e. an aircraft with more than 30 seats), other sites required something bigger straight away. Some of these facilities went from nothing to jet in no time at all.

Fortescue Dave Forrest airport in Western Australia is one such airport. The Fortescue Metals Group operation near Nullagine was a significant development in its own right and needed an airport to suit. From a greenfield site, the company constructed a 2300 meter long runway with supporting infrastructure capable of supporting regular A320 aircraft, initially, and F100 aircraft, currently, from Perth.

In addition to dealing with the remoteness of the site and the scarcity of expertise and labour at the time, the project also involved cutting through a hill and diverting a creek to find that balance between cost and efficiency.

Building was just the First Obstacle

Once the airport was built, a whole new set of challenges for the mining company began. Running an airport, especially a certified aerodrome, comes with a bunch of regulatory and safety requirements. As mining companies focussed on doing what they do best, non-core activities such as running the airport either fell to mine workers as secondary duties or became outsourced to the village operator or another sub-contractor on site.

The results tended to vary.

Workers on these airport, invariably, had other jobs on site. Be they cleaners, cooks, safety officers, paramedics, they all needed training and few came with aviation experience. Luckily for the industry, competency-based training had been developed some years prior and tailored courses for mine sites were easily developed and deployed.

But it wasn’t as simple as that. With staff turnover high, it was not unheard of for training organisations to be visiting sites on numerous occasions to train up new workers with the previous staff having left for other opportunities. Sometimes, it was a matter of weeks between visits.

This training also focussed on the frontline workers, such as aerodrome reporting officers and ground handlers. Support for aerodrome managers was required as, again, people with little aviation experience had to navigate aviation safety regulations including grappling with the implementation of Safety Management Systems like the rest of the industry. In response, a healthy consultancy industry grew in support.

That consultancy industry has, in some ways, morphed into a dedicated airport operations service industry with a number of companies offering airport labour and full service solutions to mining and resource companies.

What Does the Future Hold?

The heat is off the mining sector generally but there are plenty of FIFO operations still in business. In some other areas, the FIFO concept itself is under pressure. Regardless of the outcome of these political and economic arguments, the benefit of aviation and airport supported operations is now too well known to not be considered in any future development or expansion.

In these leaner times, innovation will become vital as both mining companies and service providers seek to distinguish themselves from their competitors. The skills and knowledge gained during the boom times might become a valuable commodity for those seeking employment or engagement in a tougher market.

The next few years will prove to be interesting in the remote and regional areas of Australia.

Australia airports

Image credit: Top one is morning flight is by Tim Corbin via Flickr.

Do you want to contribute a guest post to New Airport Insider? Contact Dan Parsons, Kris de Bolle, Guillaume Dupont or Jinan Alrawi.

Happy Birthday to Me!

New Airport Insider birthday

New Airport Insider missed its first birthday, can you believe it? We published the first post on 4 October 2013 but forgot to celebrate our 1 year of existence. Today, 30 airport articles later, we want to share with you a bit of the journey with a few words from each of the team members.

Dan Parsons

Dan Parsons

“On first hearing of the New Airport Insider concept, I was excited. Not only about the opportunity to write for a global industry audience but for the chance to read about the experiences of my colleagues.

New Airport Insider was the destination I had been looking for – an insider’s perspective on the airport industry. The material already up on the site and in the pipeline represents the views and approaches of those in the fold.

Whether the material provides a bird’s eye view of an area’s development or a frontline view of birds on an airport, New Airport Insider helps airport insiders widen and deepen their understanding of their field.” Dan

Kris de BolleKris de Bolle

“I wouldn’t call it a passion, but I have always loved writing. Be it a book review on Google Books, or even a dull meeting report; always in a good mood when I can write about something.

Imagine the excitement when about a year and a half ago, I was contacted by Ms Jinan Alrawi to check if I would be interested to start a series of articles for a brand new blog concept by airport pro’s for airport pro’s, on what definitely ís a passion of mine: Airport Collaborative Decision Making.

Writing blog articles quickly proved to be a different ball game than writing meeting reports and book reviews. Lots of ‘meta stuff’ to take into account: keywords, lay-out, subtitles, pictures, credits… and deadlines! For God’s sake, what was I thinking!

And indeed, the learning curve was steep, but I loved (well, about) every minute of the ride up until now. And we’re not running on empty yet: the initial idea of writing 3 short articles on A-CDM, has evolved in an ongoing series of 7 blog posts with evergreen content on airport data sharing in Europe, enjoyed now by over 180 hi-end subscribers. And know what the funny thing is? That I started off by panicking about how will I ever manage to write three 750 word articles about A-CDM…

So I invite you to take that leap of faith, join the New Airport Insider Team, write about YOUR passion and share it with the world of airport professionals!” Kris

Guillaume DupontGuillaume Dupont

“The New Airport Insider adventure started for me in late 2013 when I joined this tiny community after being contacted by Jinan Alrawi, the founder. The idea is to create an online magazine for airport professionals. And that is a good idea. There are many sites focusing on airlines, manufacturers, or other aspects of the aviation industry but very few cover airports. Over the past year, I wrote 5 articles, along Dan Parson and Kris de Bolle, the two main writers. And as I like to understand both causes and consequences, my articles always feature an overview of the market and the airlines’ landscape, which happen to be highly appreciated by our readers.

Of course it is really motivating to know that experts, people interested in aviation or curious spirits will read our analysis and learn, criticize, compare, or share. And this from all over the World. At New Airport Insider, we look at countries from all over the World. Our team is made of five different nationalities, and our readers way more than that. The main reason why I love aviation is because it a world of innovation, of extreme competition and without boundaries. And still, each country has its culture, its way to deal with things, and its economic realities. In my articles, I try to explain this essential background.

As the curious writer that I am, working with New Airport Insider has allowed me to learn a lot about how fast aviation is changing, everywhere. This is probably the best source of motivation for me.

Since October 2013 we strive to produce quality content for airport professionals. I think New Airport Insider shows unique points of views and analysis, and I hope our readers all appreciate that. Although it is not easy to grow, I wish that during our second year of existence, other writers will want to join our group. We will also start to collaborate with companies which might want us to focus on an area where they are particularly active. As you can see, started from scratch one year ago, we still have ambitious plans to boost New Airport Insider. Want to be a part of it? You can contact us!” Guillaume

Also, Greg Principato is joining New Airport Insider to help us grow. Many of you may know him as he is the former President of ACI-NA. We are very excited to have Greg on board. He will also write for New Airport Insider.

Greg Principato

Greg Principato

“Although I have worked on aviation policy issues in one form or another for my entire 35 year career, I became especially immersed in aviation policy when I was tabbed to serve as executive director of a presidential aviation commission in 1993.  Though much has changed in aviation over those years, one thing remains clear:  aviation discussions and debates rarely change much.  The issues don’t seem to change, nor do the solutions.  People in aviation have become comfortable with their traditional ways of thinking.

In 2005, I was named President of Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA).  I had never worked at an airport before, and now I was sort of a “new airport insider” if you will.  What I had observed as an outsider involved in aviation policy was confirmed by my new view as an insider.  Once I had been there long enough to have gained some credibility, I began to actively and vocally push for new thinking and new ways of doing things.  It was a hard slog.

Making it even harder is the fact that many aviation publications and forums for debate do not stimulate new thinking.  We much prefer stories about how wonderful we already are, rather than the new future we ought to work to build.

That is why I am excited about the birth of New AIrport Insider.  If ever there was an industry in need of fresh thinking, it is aviation.  And if ever there was an industry in need of a fresh new forum for that thinking it is aviation.  New Airport Insider fills an important void.  I congratulate it on its first anniversary and look forward to contributing to its mission in the coming years.” Greg

Jinan AlrawiJinan Alrawi

“One day I “met” airports, then thought how can we create a community for airport professionals to meet, to share knowledge, expertise and to collaborate. The answer was easy: the Internet and technology. Use these to bring a community together online. This is how it started more than a year ago.

It has been a bigger challenge than I realized to launch, to build and to grow New Airport Insider. But along this short path, I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined and this at a fast pace.

Looking forward, we are growing the team, the topics we cover and we will bring you content in more formats. Also, we are merging DC Design Tech with New Airport Insider to form only one entity: New Airport Insider. Further, we will have a new logo but most importantly we will migrate to a more powerful platform in the coming months to optimize your experience.

Lastly, I want to say big thank you to the team and to you our readers for subscribing to New Airport Insider.” Jinan 

Photo credit: birthday cake via Flickr