The Passenger Terminal Conference and Exhibition (PTE) is a staple in our agendas each year. Be it Amsterdam, Barcelona or Paris, our team is there to meet with clients, peers and to see and contribute first-hand to the latest developments in the industry.

The Passenger Terminal Conference and Exhibition (PTE)

Here are our top five takeaways from PTE 2017:

1. New industry regulations: a challenge or an opportunity?

Operating in a highly regulated industry provides both challenges and opportunities. We know that regulations can sometimes be disrupting and also pave the way for exciting new technologies and innovative solutions. In particular, there is a lot of buzz around the new Standard 3 regulation, as well as the new wave of guidelines coming through from IATA that encourage the tracking of luggage at all stages of the baggage handling journey.

Standard 3 is proving to be a real challenge for the industry as many airports we spoke to are going to struggle to adapt their processes and systems to adhere to the new load requirements and dimensions. Yet on the other hand, we expect that some of the IATA guidelines will in fact act as a positive catalyst for change, triggering innovation and encouraging developers and airports to consider how they can implement this technology.

2. Simplifying the check-in process

The check-in process for passengers is an area ripe for innovation, particularly as a result of the influence of digitalisation and continuing advancements in biometrics. It’s no secret that the check-in process needs to be seamless for the passenger, and this also has to work in tandem with baggage handling systems. At PTE we saw some interesting collaborations, for example a carry-on luggage manufacturer (and developer of the electronic tag) with a manufacturer supplying automated processing facilities (i.e. self-bag drop).

We are also seeing more examples springing up of self-service bag drop stations, and facial recognition technology being incorporated into the process. Not only will this improve the passenger experience, but it will also speed the process up. Passengers will also have more of a sense of control, which undoubtedly results in a more positive experience. Automatic border controls would also mean that skilled security staff can be redeployed where there is a greater need. 

3. Sustainability

Energy consumption is another key priority for airports. We are seeing more and more industry awards coming through, recognising innovation that makes the aviation industry more sustainable.

This attitude is increasingly coming into play at an early stage in airport development too – the airports we speak to are looking at designing new facilities and buildings with more of a long term view. The total lifecycle of these facilities is being considered, alongside how long they will be used and how they can best be futureproofed. We are also seeing more airports looking at aiming for BREEAM and LEED standards in their buildings, recognising that the initial CAPEX investment will pay dividends in terms of lower operating costs and maintenance costs in the future.

4. Improving operational efficiencies

Airports are constantly looking at how they can refine and evolve their processes in order to operate as efficiently as possible. PTE 2017 showed that some airports are turning away from building bigger terminals, preferring instead to look at how they can make the most of the facilities that they already have. Physical expansion is very costly, so investment in technology such as baggage self-drop could be a preferable solution.

And we are seeing some airports even considering how they can take baggage out of the terminal altogether – there are some examples in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Netherlands where a pick-up service is being offered for luggage so passengers only travel with their hand luggage.

5.  Big data and the passenger experience

Big data is going to be key for simplifying and streamlining the passenger experience throughout the airport. We can use smart phones, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and so on to understand passenger movements and to monitor people flows. This clearer picture of passenger behaviour can help us to optimise our terminal designs and we can then put that data through a design simulation tool – helping us to identify the optimal location for retail.

Not only does this provide an opportunity to increase retail revenues, but it also makes the entire airport experience more pleasant for passengers. We already see a number of airports working hard at differentiating themselves from their competitors by offering more unique choices for passengers – Helsinki airport is an excellent example of this.

Data provided by frequent flyer programs is personalising the passenger experience even more and is shedding light on our knowledge of passengers’ preferences. This is a real priority for many airports and will ultimately drive the adoption of new technologies within the industry.

PTE 2017 emphasised for us that our industry’s future continues to focus on enhancing the passenger experience. No matter the regulations or changes which come our way, it’s up to us as the experts to partner with our clients and peers to create sustainable and user friendly solutions.

Will you be a front runner or follower in meeting the latest regulations and technological developments? Contact us at +31 88 348 1300 or [email protected] to find out how our experts can help you modernise your airport facilities for the future.

Thank you to our blog contributors Taco Spoor, Piet Ringersma and Mathias Auer-Zirem for their input based on their participation at PTE 2017 in Amsterdam.