Airports Seek New Efficiencies to Go with the Flow

By Sandra Arnoult

Anyone who frequents an airport doesn’t need to be told they are usually a work in progress. Airports, their airline and tenant partners, and their terminal designers and architects are constantly on the hunt for new and better ways ways to serve customers and streamline the passenger processing experience.

A tall order, indeed, as any and all of these changes must be carried out at the same time thousands of passengers and employees use these busy terminals. Nonetheless, airports have shown they are up to that and more as they continue to pursue better, more creative ways of conducting business.

“To play on the world stage and continue to accelerate the growth we are experiencing, it’s critical that we work with agencies and business partners to ensure our processes are competitive on a worldwide scale,” said Howard Eng, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. Toronto Pearson, which served 47 million passengers in 2017, estimates that by the mid-2030s, the airport may serve as many as 85 million passengers.

Eng has a straightforward approach to customer satisfaction: Remove factors that make the experience stressful and provide the help and information they need to enable them to enjoy the airport amenities.

As with all airports, safety and security are top priorities. Eng said the airport is working with the Canadian Air Transport Security Agency (CATSA) to roll out the latest CATSA Plus technology.

“These modern new security screening lines feature parallel divest stations, a bin tracking system, continuous X-ray belts, remote X-ray image review, motorized and improved repack areas,” Eng explained. “These improvements can as much as double passenger throughput, enhance security and contribute to a more relaxed passenger experience through this critical process.”

Over the past five years, Pearson’s redevelopment program spanned two terminals. New restaurants were integrated into gate lounges, branches of well-known Toronto brands have been added and outdated waiting and concessions spaces have been “reconceived” to make them more passenger friendly, he pointed out.

“We know the airport is never the final destination,” Eng said. “We need to connect people on the ground with the same success we’ve had at connecting them in the air.”

A proposed Regional Transit and Passenger Processing Centre would serve to connect passengers to a variety of ground transportation options. GTAA announced it is working with Metrolinx, the agency that oversees public transit, to study ways to integrate the airport with existing transit operations. This would include connections with local high speed rail, Toronto light rail transit (LRT) and various local bus services.

Toronto Pearson is on the right path, Eng believes, supported by their recent recognition by the Airport Service Quality program as the best large airport (over 40 million passengers) in North America. “Passenger feedback tells us that people like the feeling they get when they’re at the airport,” he said. “We’re hearing that passengers understand that the temporary pain of construction has led to a real benefit in the ambiance in areas where redevelopment has taken place.”

MAKING THE CONNECTION AT LAX

Los Angeles International Airport is on the threshold of a multi-billion dollar Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) that will include upgraded and expanded facilities, a new automated people mover (APM) and the construction of three terminal cores with staircases, escalators, elevators and walkways.

“LAX has been researching ways to improve access to and from the terminals for many years. We looked at the evolution of transportation and travel and how it continues to affect the airport and its neighbors,” said Mark Waier, Director of Communications for LAMP. “We have visited numerous airports to learn about the various systems in use and looked closely at our imprint and what was possible in our available space.”

Project components include a consolidated rental car facility, public parking and the Metro regional rail system as well as planned roadway improvements at multiple locations.

On the new APM, guests will be carried to and from the terminals every two minutes, with a total ride time end-to-end of 10 minutes, Waier pointed out. At peak times, it can take a car 30-45 minutes to drive through the terminal loop area. The APM will be capable of handling up to 87.7 million passengers per year.

“Mitigation of traffic is a key component of the LAMP project and a key focus of LAX as we move through our modernization efforts,” said Waier. “We work closely with the contractors and builders on a daily basis to ensure coordination of construction efforts and create targeted messages to communicate the scope of work and its impacts.”

In April, the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Board of Commissioners approved a $4.9 billion, 30-year contract with LINX, an integrated team able to provide design, engineering, construction, maintenance and operating systems for the APM.

Key to the project is the ability to keep everyone informed, including airport workers, police and security personnel as well as passengers, Waier said. “As guests arrive at LAX they will find clear signage to help them get to where they need to be quickly and efficiently.”

In 2017, LAX served more than 84.6 million passengers, a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year. It is the fourth busiest airport in the world, second in the United States. LAX offers 737 daily nonstop flights to 100 cities in the U.S. and 1,386 weekly nonstop flights to 88 cities in 44 countries on 73 commercial air carriers.

IMPROVING THE PATHWAY

Memphis International Airport is in the midst of a renaissance of sorts with an ambitious modernization project of its Terminal B, which will feature moving sidewalks, wider corridors, larger boarding areas, higher ceilings and natural lighting. The project will also include a children’s play area, a stage for live music in the rotunda area, additional lounge areas with charging stations and more retail and restaurant options. All four baggage carousels at the airport will be replaced.

While the work is being done, two of the carousels at a time will remain open. The airport was able to shift traffic to gates in terminals A and C to accommodate the renovation work.

“Having gates available on A and C enabled us to close B for construction rather than keep part of it operational while it’s actively under construction,” said MEM President and CEO Scott Brockman. “We estimate that will save a year in construction time.”

Five years ago, Delta Airlines shut down its hub operation at MEM, dropping about three dozen flights and 230 airline jobs. MEM is just 370 miles east of Delta’s main hub in Atlanta.

“Our modernization project reflects our airport’s reinvention from hub operations to origin and destination,” said Brockman. “It’s been nearly five years since Delta removed the hub, and we have already transitioned to nearly 100 percent O&D passenger traffic. We need an airport that, from an operations standpoint, serves the O&D base.”  <

BUILDING FLEXIBILITY INTO YOUR FUTURE

Any airport improvement project faces high hurdles. There’s the multi-million dollar cost, the requisite regulatory approval process and the ability to balance the needs of the passengers, the airport and the airlines all at the same time. That’s the challenge that airports face as they seek a pathfinder, a master planning organization – a wizard of sorts – who can bring all the elements of design, technology, construction and IT planning together.

For more than 50 years, Arup has partnered with airports and airlines to help with their projects – from the planning process and design through engineering to the operations phase. “We come from different places but are all seeking similar objectives – creating an experience that makes customers want to come back and use that airport over and over,” said Regine Weston, Airport Planning Leader at Arup. “One size doesn’t fit all in a single airport. It is important to understand that airports consist of different kinds of passengers. You have to think of it as various market segments.” Passengers have different needs and expectations, said Weston. “Some of it is demographics and some of it is econometrics.

Arup worked with JetBlue to map out the carrier’s Terminal 5 project at New York’s JFK International Airport. They needed to accommodate the existing passenger base but be flexible enough to accommodate future growth.

The initial Terminal 5 opened in 2008, but since that time Arup continued to work with JetBlue and the airport to upgrade the space. The design successfully melded the old with the new to accommodate international existing flights and JetBlue partners. A new U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection facility, 40 automated passport control kiosks along with 10 Global Entry kiosks were added, as well.

Arup also worked with Toronto Pearson International Airport to provide master planning for a $4.4 billion airport development project. It provided consultation for engineering services for a new Terminal 1, which consolidated two older and dated existing terminals. Arup continues to work with the airport on planning for future expansion.

“There’s no question that there’s a healthy tension between airports and airlines around some issues,” said Weston. “Those tend to be about money. But customer experience is something they all stand behind.”

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT

There’s good news and bad news for airports. The strength of the global economy has bolstered an increase in the demand for more air travel. The challenge for airports is to find a way to keep up with that growth.

“In many cases, this growth is happening far more rapidly than facilities can be expanded, when there is room and the financial resources to do so,” said Jim Jarvis, a Senior Vice President at Ricondo, an aviation consulting firm that provides airport master planning, as well as airfield and airspace analyses.

Extensive reconstruction or redevelopment is not always feasible in terms of time and money, so it may be more effective to consider the augmentation of existing systems and less extensive physical improvements.

Ricondo uses micro simulation modeling to test how potential changes or modifications in one area could impact flow and congestion in another area.

“Micro simulation modeling is, however, only a tool and cannot supplant effective planning,” said Doug Trezise, PE, a Senior Vice President at Ricondo. There must be a “holistic approach to planning” that recognizes the interconnection of the airport to planes to terminals to curbs and roads.

He admitted that it can be a challenge to reach consensus given the different interests of the various stakeholders in an airport. Early agreement on constraint and goals and relying on data and analysis to drive decision-making are key to the planning process, said Trezise.

The road to reconciliation is not always easy. Currently, Ricondo is working on a terminal and landside project that is not balanced with airfield capacity.

“To make matters worse, the airport is landlocked with no ability to expand,” said Jarvis, who is familiar with the project. He explained that everything must fit within the existing footprint and supporting landside facilities. “In this case we are developing capacity enhancement alternatives that rely solely on operations, technological and demand management solutions.”

This may mean repurposing certain facilities such as parking garages to serve as auxiliary terminal hubs, developing strategies to influence passenger arrivals and departures from the airport and reallocating underutilized space to another use that is space constrained.

“There is no silver bullet, rather a series of programmatic and small capacity and efficiency improvements that will culminate in improved airport operations and customer service,” said Jarvis. “The reward for a project like this is satisfaction of being engaged by a client willing to work collaboratively between departments to develop solutions. It takes strong leadership and willingness to compromise to find the best solution – not just the solution that best meets the objective of a single operating unit.”

Airplane takes off in front of airport at sunset

Finding a Seat at the Slots Table

Airports Align to Amplify Visibility, Voice in Worldwide Slots Guidelines Process  

By Nicole Nelson

Imagine a dozen members of your extended family showing up unannounced at the front door of your home to tell you they’re not just staying overnight, but they’re moving in.

This visualization is how Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Director of Aviation, Huntley A. Lawrence, views the airport’s role in the current system to allot airport capacity, with the International Air Transport Association representing the family of international air carriers and airports having no voice when made to obligingly open their doors.

“You may love these people – at least some of them anyway – and you want to accommodate them as best as you can, but without time and money to plan, and buy extra beds, linens, and food, you’re not always going to be a very good host,” Lawrence related. “You may normally be an excellent host, but without having a say about who stays over, and when, you simply can’t be expected to shine.”

It is Huntley’s desire to not only provide the PANYNJ’s airports—including slot-constrained John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, and LaGuardia– but all airports the ability, “to shine always.” To that end, Lawrence and his staff have become increasingly vocal on the need for airports to have a voice in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Worldwide Slots Guidelines (WSG) process. Designed by airlines decades ago, airlines continue to write the rules and govern the process of allocating airport capacity that, ironically, does not include airports.

“You are literally at your airport, and these new rules are being made, are being modified, or being considered, and you are an outsider looking in,” Lawrence confounded, citing the need to make the current slot system more transparent, pro-consumer and pro-competition.

Lawrence said there is no question that the current system is complex by design. The legacy carriers have designed a system that makes it difficult for new airlines, or non-IATA carriers, to penetrate a multifaceted system of codes, computer messages, and also meetings.

“I am not a regulator of slots, but what I’m saying is that we’ve got a less-than-okay process in the United States,” Lawrence said, noting the current slot system poses a barrier to market entry that should be looked at very closely with all key stakeholders. “We don’t have an issue with the rules that are written. We actually have an issue with how the rules are administered, and the transparency of the entire and overall process.

“We have been crystal clear that there is an opportunity to improve collaboration, and utilization of our assets through a way more transparent process. We are certainly looking at a strategic review of the Worldwide Slot Guidelines to advocate for reform, but our focus is not on authority, or power, or control. It is the effect on the consumer, the market, competition, and the people that fly, most of all.”

PANYNJ has been looking at the various changes, or iterations of the slot order in place today, and has responded to various Notices of Proposed Rulemakings from the FAA and is a key participant in the Strategic Review of the WSG, a collaborative initiative of Airports Council International, IATA and the Worldwide Airport Coordinators Group (WWACG) that was welcomed by the Economic Commission at the 39th ICAO Assembly. Since the aviation community agreed to establish this in-depth review of the slot guidelines in 2016, PANYNJ Manager of Industry and Regulatory Relations, Bradley Rubinstein, has helped shape strategic direction for airports globally as the North American representative to the ACI Expert Group on Slots. Chief Strategy Officer Patty Clark has served on the Access to Congested Airports Task Force in the Strategic Review.

After participating in monthly meetings for the better part of two years on the taskforce, Clark said her contribution within the WSG subcommittee is her continued advocacy for the sharing of WSG data with the airport community.

“Believe it or not, data is almost exclusively given to airlines, but never to the airport, which is really unconscionable in many ways,” Clark said. “My task force that includes facilitators, airlines, and airports, are in agreement, so we hope to see positive movement there, in that data would be provided to airports and airlines. It seems very elemental, yet that’s a pretty heavy lift to get two words in.”

In addition to requesting the information for airports among the other stakeholders, Clark recommended universal formatting in Excel spreadsheets.

“One of the things that happens is you will get reams of paper with 800 pages of data requiring significant mining, and special software, et cetera. If you provide the data in a format that is universally accepted, more stakeholders could use it.

“Given the other things that we need to talk about, that is what we may accomplish at the end of the day. It is not as significant as the work that we really need to get done,” Clark said. “I’m not going to deny it is progress, but it is kind of disappointing given the barrier to entry for new entrants.”

“The Port Authority has long sought to make our airports available to anyone who wants to participate in them, but the U.S. conference where domestic slots are traded is conducted by A4A, and airports and the FAA don’t really have visibility into it,” Clark said, noting that the FAA simply receives the results with no transparency whatsoever. “Other entities besides airlines should decide who gets the benefit of this very valuable resource and that there are other considerations beyond that particular airline, and how and whom they choose to work with.”

EUROPEAN CONSENSUS

Düsseldorf Airport CEO Thomas Schnalke shares Clark’s sentiments. His Vice President of Marketing and Strategy, Lutz Honerla, is an engaged member of both the ACI-World Expert Group on Slots and the ‘Access to Congested Airports’ task force as part of the WSG strategic review.

“Jointly, the three industry partners propose greater transparency in the complex processes of slot distribution and, explicitly, an improved information situation, especially for airports,” Düsseldorf Airport CEO Thomas Schnalke said. “These proposals must now be integrated into the WSG. The goal of best utilization of scarce airport capacities can be reached only if the same information is available to all three partners on time.

“We see ourselves as equal partners when it comes to setting rules about how scarce airport infrastructure is utilized,” Schnalke continued. “We are committed to a rulebook that is consistent and set up by all industry partners together, and which equally reflects the legitimate interests of all involved.”

Schnalke said slot allocation at Düsseldorf, a coordinated Level 3 German airport, follows clear rules based on European regulation implemented in 1993. The core principles of this regulation are quite similar to the principles of the IATA WSG, including the principle of ‘Historical Rights.’

“The incumbent airlines at Düsseldorf have greatly benefited from this, because they could develop their route networks over many years and, with appropriate slot use, are entitled to reassignments,” Schnalke explained. “We embrace this core principle because it secures certainty in planning for the airport and its airlines. On the other hand, the principle makes it harder for new airlines to enter Düsseldorf. More than 90 percent of all slots at Düsseldorf are grandfathered and as such, the number of available slots for new applicants is low.”

Schnalke said that all too frequently the German airport coordinator has to deny slot applications from new applicants on a large scale or can assign them only with significant delays.

“Often, new applicants don’t receive enough slots to build a competitive flight program at Düsseldorf,” Schnalke said. “In this respect, I welcome the joint initiative by airlines, airports, and slot coordinators for the strategic review of the WSG.”

A major point of discussion in this review is a slot distribution rule for new applicants that is adapted to local conditions.

“Local conditions differ from airport to airport,” Schnalke explained. “One example is the purpose that a particular airport has for traffic, the extent of the slot scarcity, or even the particular environmental concerns related to air traffic. In this respect, we are committed to giving utmost consideration in the slot allocation to the local conditions under which air traffic at the respective airport takes place. Naturally, this must be transparent and free of discrimination.”

CANADIAN APPROACH

Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) President and CEO Howard Eng shares similar opinions on the governance of local concerns with its North American, European and other global peers. The airport has taken an innovative approach to address localized concerns accordingly and is also actively participating in the Strategic Review of the WSG.

“The WSGs serve to shape the way we approach allocation of slots, but as a guideline, it’s understood that in some cases, local procedures developed in consultation between the airport, airlines and coordinator are more effective and appropriate to the airport’s operation,” Eng said, noting that in recent years, as demand and airport utilization at Toronto Pearson have continued to increase, there has been a growing need to improve schedule coordination through efficiency, process improvements and investments in technology. To this effect, and given the complexity arising from increasing traffic, the GTAA elected to assume full ownership of slot coordination in January 2017 from the management of a third-party coordinator. This shift has allowed the GTAA to improve coordination and alignment between demand and capacity within the airport community.

“As a Level 3 coordinated airport – a designation reserved for the world’s busiest airports – we’re advocating to play a larger role in a process that guides how we maximize airport capacity,” Eng said, noting GTAA’s unique position as the airport to take slot coordination in-house. “Upon assuming the role of coordinator, the GTAA made significant investments in people, technology and processes to support this undertaking. In our second year of coordination, we have demonstrated that an airport can successfully coordinate this process, and allocate slots related to airport capacity.

“This ‘made in Canada’ approach has been very successful, by improving upon the prior coordination process through and allowing the airport to leverage the process to better support operational planning and realize significant efficiencies.”

Other airports are also taking the opportunity to cater to their own localized needs including San Francisco International Airport. SFO deviates from the WSG and instead takes an approach that meets its own goals and Department of Transportation policy objectives.

“We view the Worldwide Slot Guidelines as just that…a guideline,” SFO Airport Director Ivar C. Satero said of his Level 2 airport. “In our opinion, what’s missing from the current WSG is a meaningful role for organizations that own the airport infrastructure. It is that omission that led us to take an approach that we feel is appropriate for our airport, one that retains gates as a public asset, has a regular reallocation that rewards efficiency, and allows us to stimulate and promote competition.

“We believe that if airports were to have a seat at the (WSG) table, it should come with decision-making authority and not simply a token seat as an observer.”

GLOBAL CONCERN

Most worldwide airports are categorized as Level 1, non-coordinated airports within the WSG. But regardless of the fact that only 300 airports worldwide are held to a slot facilitated Level 2 status where demand is close to capacity; or a fully coordinated Level 3 where demand exceeds the capacity, PANYNJ’s Lawrence believes the WSG to be a policy issue that all airports should be interested in.

“The fact of the matter is you’ve got a separate body that’s making these rules,” Lawrence said. “In the end, this is really about how airports are controlled and managed; how we protect the consumer; and ensuring that there is free and transparent access into and out of our airports.”

“This is really about making sure that we’ve got the best process for the traveling public, and also a process that ensures that we optimize our assets – our airports. I believe ACI is on our side, and we intend to continue to take up this fight.”

Crowd listening to a speaker at ACI-NA’s 2017 Annual Conference

Cheers to 70 Years: The Best Is Yet to Come

By: Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO, ACI-NA

2018 represents a great milestone for Airports Council International-North America as we celebrate our seventieth anniversary as the Voice of Airports in North America. Anniversaries like this provide a great opportunity to reflect on our past, celebrate our present and look ahead to the future.

As you know, air travel – and the world – has transformed immensely over the last seventy years. And our industry’s evolution along with it hasn’t always been easy or certain. That’s one of the chief reasons ACI-NA exists.

Then in a post-war world with a growing economy, air travel was increasingly accessible to the masses. As we entered the golden age of travel, airports faced many of the same challenges we see today, including burdensome government regulation, infrastructure and investment needs, and airline decision making.

Realizing that there was power in the collective, nineteen founding members convened in New York in 1948 to establish a body that would bring airports together in addressing the challenges and issues of an evolving aviation industry.  From there, our journey took off as the Airport Operators Council.

Looking back, this industry has overcome significant hardships and setbacks. From economic ebbs and flows to airline industry deregulation and airline consolidation to the September 11, 2001 attacks, this industry has always had to be nimble and responsive to the challenge of the day.

Your association has had to be nimble too. In the past seventy years, our name has changed from Airport Operators Council to Airport Operators Council International, and now to Airports Council International-North America in an effort to make room for our ever growing U.S. and Canadian membership and global connections.

While the issues of the past may sound familiar today, so much has changed. Today, airports operate more as businesses than they ever have before.  They are becoming cities unto themselves.

The current landscape presents many unique challenges that require solutions. Today’s airports are not your father or grandfather’s airport. We are seeing a change in the way technology affects air transportation across the world.

Meeting the demands of passenger and cargo growth has never been more important. Our airports must have the ability to modernize as they seek to accommodate rapid growth in passenger and cargo traffic. In the United States alone, airports need nearly $100 billion in infrastructure upgrades and maintenance in order to remain competitive with airports across the globe.

Solving today’s challenges are essential in order to lay the foundation for the future. As such, airports around the world are actively working to enhance competition, create efficiencies through technology, and improve the passenger experience.

There used to be more than thirty airlines that no longer exist because of airline consolidation. The future of the airport industry is at stake without an economic climate that fosters airline competition and choice.

Competition has many benefits in our industry, which can be enhanced through more air service routes and more airline choices. In order to ensure communities in North America remain connected to the global marketplace, we are actively working to make certain our industry – airports and airlines – are as competitive as they can be. Our work in this important area will only grow in the years ahead.

Technology will also be a large part of an overall improved and seamless passenger experience. Today, easiness is synonymous with technology. What new technologies can we use to our benefit? Biometrics is speeding up the boarding process for certain flights, and in a just a few years, all flights may be boarded with the scan of a face.

It’s clear that we must focus on enhancing the passenger experience for a successful future. But these challenges are too big for anyone to handle alone. And that’s where your association comes in.

Members always tell me the real value of ACI-NA comes through our ability to advance airport priorities in Washington and Ottawa, provide essential industry intelligence by keeping the pulse of the issues impacting airport operations, and foster industry collaboration by creating a forum to develop and exchange best practices.  The rich history of advocating for policies and services that strengthen airports will continue as we reflect on our accomplishments and look beyond the horizon.

ACI-NA is only as strong as its members and their active engagement. Our team is proud of the members we serve because of the profound and positive impact they have on local communities across North America. Thank you for your leadership.

Today, as we celebrate our seventieth year with a strong membership and transnational – even global with the establishment of ACI World in 1992 – reach, we recognize that there are obstacles still to overcome. We’re not done yet. We’re just getting started.

Here’s to the next seventy years.

Meet the Member: Rep. Jeff Denham

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke recently caught up with Rep. Jeff Denham, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to talk about prospects for an infrastructure bill in Congress.

ACI-NA Celebrates 2018 Infrastructure Week at TPA

Infrastructure Week, a week-long celebration of the vast network that supports – and moves – the U.S. economy, is taking place this week. ACI-NA’s Airport Infrastructure Needs Study details that U.S. airports have nearly $100 billion in infrastructure needs through 2021 to accommodate growth in passenger and cargo activity, rehabilitate existing facilities and support aircraft innovation.

For Infrastructure Week 2018, Tampa International Airport hosted ACI-NA and Building America’s Future (BAF) along with members of the Tampa Congressional delegation for an event focused on the need for airport infrastructure investment. This video highlights the lawmakers and industry leaders who called for robust infrastructure investment during the event.

IATA Eyes a Future with One ID

Imagine a day when a passenger could present a single form of ID that would ensure a smooth path through the airport at the very start of his or her journey through the boarding process.

That’s exactly what International Air Transport Association (IATA) has in mind with its concept, ONE ID that would enable a secure, seamless and “frictionless” process allowing them to walk through the airport “without breaking stride.”

IATA confirmed through its 2017 Global Passenger survey that passengers want more automation of airport processes. They would like a single identity token that would be used through all processes, real time information sent to the personal devices and more efficient security without removing or unpacking personal items. Some 82 percent said they would like to be able to use a digital passport on their smart phones for as many travel activities as possible. To meet such a goal, there will have to be close collaboration between various industry and government stakeholders for a solution that applies horizontally across the end to end passenger experience, according to IATA’s Guido Peetermans, Head of Passenger Security. “All stakeholders will benefit from a coordinated approach through improved productivity, increased capacity and cost savings as well as improvements in border, aviation and airport infrastructure security.”

Peetersmans noted that ONE ID does not favor one particular form of biometrics. “While facial recognition may be the most pragmatic choice in many environments, other jurisdictions or stakeholders may prefer other biometrics such as fingerprint or iris for technical, operational or cultural reasons.”

A major barrier to implementing a collaborative identity management solution is to establish trust and collaboration between stakeholders, Peetermans said. “Today, individual stakeholders take steps to ensure their own obligations are met, but with little or no coordination between them. We will need to break these silos and get stakeholders to collaborate towards a solution that would apply horizontally across the whole process.”

Peetermans said that an upfront investment in the new technology required for biometric recognition is required but it is increasingly mature and moving forward at a rapid pace.

“We don’t believe that the installation and integration of the technology components are going to be the bottleneck as is evidenced by various pilot projects that are underway at leading airports around the globe.”

Facing the Future: New Biometric Technology Programs Being Tested Nationwide

By Sandra Arnoult

Sweeping changes may come over the next four years as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection rolls out the installation of new biometric technology in U.S. airports based on facial recognition. Over the past year, a number of airports have kicked off pilot programs to test the new technology with a designated, limited number of flights and destinations.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) first established biometric screening procedures based on digital fingerprints for certain non-U.S. citizens in 2004, after Congress required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a biometric entry/exit system. The goal was to secure U.S. borders and verify travelers’ identities. In 2013, when Congress transferred the entry/exit policy and operations to CBP, the border security initiatives continued.

One of the most recent technologies relates to biometrics – metrics related to human characteristics. In this case, it is facial-recognition technology and it is being used to help verify travelers’ identities and match them to the documents they present.

Using a flight manifest, CBP develops a flight-specific photo gallery using photos from the passenger that were provided to the airline.

The live photo is compared to the document photo to ensure it matches the original documents. If the photo captured at boarding confirms the passenger as a U.S. citizen, it’s not used for biometric exit purposes and is discarded briefly afterward.

It’s critical that any process does not slow down or impede the flow of passengers or limit the number of flights, said Dan Tanciar, deputy executive for entry/exit transportation at CBP. The economic impact of the process on the airlines and the airport has to be taken into account in any process, he added.

Tanciar pointed out that the 2016 appropriation for DHS included up to $1 billion over a 10-year period to implement a biometric entry and exit program. The cost to implement the program “remains a concern among stakeholders” and issues of policy and training still need to be resolved.

Tanciar acknowledged, “CBP is committed to continue to work with stakeholders to resolve the details associated with implementation.”

U.S. citizens who balk at the idea of having a photo taken can opt for a physical inspection of their documents, which will take more time but would address their concerns about privacy, he said.

Early indications from airports and officials at CBP and the DHS are that programs, which are limited thus far, may be an important tool in establishing the validity of the technology.

“Matt Cornelius, ACI-NA Vice President of Air Policy, agrees. “Over the last year, ACI-NA has been working closely with CBP, Airlines for America, IATA and the individual airlines to ensure that the program is not only effective but does not disrupt airport operations.”

But in late December, two U.S. Senators raised a red flag, asking DHS to stop expanding the program and provide Congress with its explicit statutory authority to use and expand it.

“We ask that DHS address accuracy concerns and potential flaws before broadening the practice,” wrote U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in a letter to DHS on Dec.

21, 2017. They also expressed concerns about whether the data collection will “unduly burden” travelers of certain races or genders.

In addition, they said, “While Congress has repeatedly voted to authorize biometric entry/exit scanning of foreign nationals, it has never authorized biometric exit scanning

for U.S. citizens. In fact, Congress has pointedly neglected to authorize DHS to use the program on U.S. citizens for any purpose.”

Tanciar is confident that their concerns will be adequately addressed because of the way the system is being developed and used.

PRIVACY CONCERNS

Privacy is a concern for passengers, said Guido Peetermans, head of IATA Passenger Security. Any system should be designed to ensure that access to passenger data is on a “need to know” and “authorized basis.”

“A privacy impact analysis, sound quality assurance and compliance monitoring need to be in place to maintain the traveling public’s trust in such a system,” Peetermans said.

“The biggest challenge in every implementation project we have seen is to establish trust and collaboration between the various industry and government stakeholders, break the silos, and redesign the process with the passenger in the center.”

Tanciar said that he believes CBP is already in line with privacy protections.

“I think we have done an honest-to-goodness good faith effort to bake all of this into the process.”

PUTTING THE BEST FACE FORWARD

Pilot programs at select U.S. airports have been in effect for nearly a year and, thus far, the passenger response has been positive, say a number of airports officials.

“Up to this point, things are progressing very well,” said Dan Agostino, assistant director of operations at Miami International Airport. “On the entry side, we are processing two international flights per day with hopes to increase to three flights per day.”

He said he sees it as a “viable program” and that very few people have opted out of the facial ID. They are considering testing the technology for check-in at common use kiosks.

“I think the major hurdle, other than privacy, is to have both CBP and TSA aligned as to the use of this technology,” Agostino said.

“Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue executive vice president, customer experience. “More than 90% of customers have opted-in to self-board. Self-boarding also saves time for our crewmembers who no longer have to do manual passport inspections during the boarding process.”

JetBlue teamed with SITA to pilot a biometric boarding process at Boston Logan International Airport in June 2017. SITA provides passenger processing technology to more than 165 airlines that serve 100 million passengers each year. It also provides border management technology to more than 40 governments across the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“Our trial was the first effort between an airline and CBP to use biometrics and facial recognition technology in the boarding process,” Geraghty explained. “We launched with our Boston to Aruba flights to test this among a vacation leisure market and customers who travel frequently and are technology-savvy.” The process was subsequently extended to flights from Boston to Santiago, Dominican Republic, which are primarily leisure or family trips.

She said JetBlue continues to review the program and will work with CBP for a “long term biometric roadmap.”

Sean Farrell, SITA portfolio director, strategy and partnerships, demonstrates how a technology provider can bring together all stake holders – airlines, airports and government agencies – to improve identity checks and improve processing times.

“We continue to work with other U.S. airlines and airports to see how we can introduce this technology at other passenger touch points,” said Farrell. “Looking more globally, over the past 18 months we have worked tirelessly to develop our end-to-end suite of self-service solutions for passengers –we call it Smart Path™. [It] allows passengers to move through the airport and board the aircraft by presenting a single digital token, created by capturing a passenger’s biometric details at the first step in the journey.”

British Airways has partnered with Los Angeles International Airport to run test trials on a self-service biometric boarding gate from Vision-Box. The passenger approaches the gate where a camera snaps a photo.

When the photo is verified against the photo taken as part of the process, the gate automatically opens and the passenger moves through eliminating the need to supply boarding documents or a passport.

“People are very excited about using this new technology,” said Justin Erbacci, chief innovation and technology officer for Los Angeles World Airports. “They are eager to go through the gates. It’s optional. No one has to go through. If someone feels it is obtrusive, they can go through the traditional boarding process.”

Bringing in the equipment was a bit of a hurdle, he said. “We had to bring the gates themselves [because] automated boarding lanes are new to the airport – getting the infrastructure in place and getting airlines to use it.”

The gates are stationed in the international terminal and can be moved, he said. “Other airlines are starting to use the automated boarding gates. We are in the process of adjusting their system. We believe it makes sense to board planes much faster than the traditional method of boarding.”

The technology also has to be integrated with existing common use equipment in the international terminals, he said.

Erbacci said he believes facial recognition is the direction they are heading, rather than voice, fingerprint or iris recognition. “We aren’t looking at that right now. Functionality now involves the use of the face.”

Farrell agreed. “We expect that face will dominate going forward – particularly at airports, where the major focus will be to continue to leverage the face data in ePassports to improve the passenger experience and security.” Other modalities – such as iris or fingerprints may have advantages, but they also have drawbacks such as privacy concerns, the cost of fingerprint technology and the lack of an existing database, he said.

“We believe biometrics are the future of passenger processing,” said Erbacci. “For us, it’s very important to be part of this.” Thus far the initial cost of the gates at LAX are not covered by CBP but through different airport resources, said Erbacci.

“We would recommend this to other airports and airlines,” said JetBlue’s Geraghty. “Our goal is for a personal, helpful and simple experience. Implementing biometrics has allowed us to innovate the airport travel experience and reduce friction points for our customer by making the boarding process simpler.”

Silver Tsunami: Will Your Airport Sink or Swim?

By Sandy Smith

All it takes is one look around anywhere employees are gathered to see it: the unmistakable sea of silver hair. The workforce in airports – as in every industry – is graying. Some call it a “silver tsunami” and the wave of retirements coming could sink many an enterprise.

The youngest Baby Boomers turn 54 in 2018 – meaning we’re only about a third of the way through this large generation hitting the typical retirement age of 65.

For some airports, that is creating something of a talent drain. However, others have been preparing for this moment and have already come up with a plan – such as WCAA, the authority which manages Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) and Willow Run Airport (YIP).

“We expected this and have been working toward being prepared as much as we can,” said Mary Mullally, deputy director of HR Organizational Development. That has led to a multiyear

refocusing on learning, leadership and, ultimately, succession plans throughout the organization.

The same issue is hitting consultants, too, said Brian Conlee of Conlee Consulting. And the retirements come at a time when airport development is growing significantly, causing a “shortage of mid-level candidates. When the economic conditions took a downturn, it scared a lot of the talent away from the industry.”

For those in all aspects of the industry, a succession plan can help combat one of the reasons people leave. “In most cases, people will leave an organization at the second tier for two reasons,” said Timothy McNamara, managing partner at Odgers Berndtson, LLC, an international executive search firm. “One is economic. The other is promotional opportunity. What’s my future going to be? What’s going to be my level of responsibilities? What is the likelihood of me being considered when there is a next C-level role opening up?”

GENERATION GAP

One of the biggest hurdles in succession plans comes due to significant demographic issues. As Baby Boomers plan to retire, the next generation – Gen X – is significantly smaller and can’t fill all the roles. Many of those standing in line ready to move up are Millennials – those born between 1981 and 1997.

While Millennials are often knocked as challenging in the workforce – they want constant feedback and responsibility well beyond their experience, most studies show – Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, sees it differently. “They are, bar none, the most talented and influential generation that this country has ever had,” he said. “If they get really excited about something, things happen.

Millennials are more likely to question the status quo and move the needle.”

At IAA, that has meant creating an ascension plan. “It boils down to having our Baby Boomers provide the sort of wisdom that they’ve gathered over the years,” Rodriguez said.

That is paying off at IAA, where a leadership development program starts early, before the talent has been hired.

“We’re recruiting for drive and talent, not experience anymore,” Rodriguez said. “I can train.”

Seeing a career path is paramount to keeping them. IAA’s leadership development program moves Millennials into different careers where “they get a chance to have their voices heard. They get to work on things they wouldn’t normally get to work on.

Instead of molding Millennials to what to them and modeled this organization in response.”

That has meant offering free and fast WiFi for travelers, something the Millennial staff insisted was necessary. It also has meant allowing rideshares and electric vehicles. IAA also has a large electric bus fleet and significant solar panel array – both designed to boost bona fides among environmentally conscious Millennials. “In a place that you wouldn’t think would be very focused on the environment, we focus on sustainability because we have a large group of Millennial employees who feel very deeply about it.”

So if IAA is being transformed by its young workers, won’t it just be prime recruiting ground? Rodriguez sees that it can work regardless. On the one hand, creating the right work environment is likely to build loyalty. On the other, “if we’re able to build that entity that people recruit from instead of us recruiting from other people, we’ve actually done our job and created an immense value for our community at large. If we retain talent here in Indianapolis, or if we bring in organization in Indianapolis, we’re still building public value.”

SIZING UP THE NEED

If you’re not looking at your current roster to assess who is ready to move up, understand that others probably are.

“I have quite a few clients who are more than willing to look at talent ready for the next move, where maybe at their current firm, there’s a logjam at the positions and not much room for upward mobility,” Conlee said.

Of course, as a public entity, airports don’t usually have the luxury of creating positions that allow people to step up while waiting for that logjam to break. And they likely can’t create a position for a strong outside candidate.

“Barring a major reorg, airports have a chartered structure to live with,” said Grice Whiteley, principal at Grice Group, LLC. “Due to budgets and risk aversion they don’t just spontaneously hire people permanently – no matter how great of a talent they may be – without some political and professional consequences for everyone. Having good recruiting tools and good networking certainly gives airports a competitive edge, which they all desperately need.”

Whiteley’s clients are most often in the private sector where “they can be a little more flexible and adaptable and scoop people up and find a position for them.”

No succession plan is perfect and, yes, there will be times when training is invested in someone who takes another job.

“People tend to move out to move up,” Whiteley said. “The machinery chugs along and the person you were grooming is leaving to go to another airport, even if you hired them specifically to groom them. It’s an unavoidable process. There are some airports that are more agile to adapt and hang on to people.”

Even those who get succession planning right still have to endure those times when the next best leader chooses to leave. “Career moving is going to happen because of life,” Whiteley said. “They have kids or get married or need to move closer to parents. It’s not anything you can predict. I don’t know if there’s anybody who has a perfect model.”

But there are issues that the industry must address – and one is a lack of ability to move to the CEO role internally, McNamara said. “A huge percentage of CEO roles are filled by external candidates, by searches that are required to be conducted because the CEO leaves. Very few are based on internal promotions. You have to ask yourself why. For the most part, CEO and other C-level changes are event driven.

It’s not based on a strategy.”

A STRATEGIC DECISION

Strategy is absolutely the place to start with succession planning, says Mario Diaz, Aviation Director for the Houston Airport System. “It’s not about moving people, but setting a strategy.

What does the airport need to do to be successful? Once you have your strategy down, then you start looking at people who are able to deliver on that strategy.”

He believes that every manager should identify one or two individuals who have the potential to replace that manager. “And yes, it is ‘replace you.’

Someone needs to replace me. I know that I could walk out of here tomorrow and could say, ‘Any one of these two or three people could do the job.’ You have to expect that at every level of the organization.”

The names submitted for consideration should go to an executive team that includes a human resources representative and other chief officers. “You bring those managers in and review the individuals that they’ve recommended. You look at resumes and performance, the things they have accomplished and why that manager thinks they are a good candidate.”

If the successors are chosen, then it is up to the executive team to make sure that “they get the development and attention they need to move forward and be successful,” Diaz said. “Once you identify those people, you make good on the promise that these would be the individuals to move up. It’s easy in the formulation. It’s in the execution where it gets difficult.”

In Houston, Diaz oversees two international airports—George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby— as well as the much smaller Ellington.

“I’ve worked in airports of all sizes and this strategy can be used at any size organization,” he said. “If you’re in a smaller airport, the strategy is probably less complicated.”

And this is where it comes back to knowing the long-range plan.

People identified for leadership— particularly those groomed for senior level positions—should be trained in all aspects of the operation.

“Everyone understands operations, the international rules and regulations, and border protection. But how many people really know how the business makes money? How to go out and call on an airline to land a new route? What capital development is all about? If

there’s an opportunity to move up, you have to make sure they’re ready.”

He believes the role of CEO includes training those next leaders. “You can’t just call in a consultant and say, ‘Put in a succession plan.’ You have to think it through.”

Leaders also have to “make tough calls about individuals,” Diaz said.

“Sometimes one of the hardest things is to recognize that you’re looking at the resume of an individual who doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to move up.

That’s going to be a tough conversation to say, ‘You don’t seem to have the skillsets. You may want to go back to school.’ Even in those circumstances, you have to realize that everyone has value. Help them with what they want to accomplish to the extent that you can.”

TRAINING: AN IMPORTANT STEP

Succession planning is about far more than simply putting a name next to a position. It’s about making sure the person identified as a likely successor is ready when the role opens up. And it

means being honest about their hard and soft skills.

“You have to assess the management assets that you have,” McNamara said.

“You’ll have to make the tough decisions about people who fit your strategy and those that don’t. Then you have to also provide the resources to the CEO and management team to provide training and coaching to those individuals that you want to bring along. At the end of the day, these investments are still going to cost a lot of money. If you don’t invest in assessment and training and leadership development, ultimately, you’ll have to pay for that anyhow through additional hiring and the cost associated with organizational turmoil and instability.”

Investing in a new educational platform isn’t always the obvious first step in succession planning. But Mullally said the WCAA saw it as necessary, but just the first step. Collective bargaining agreements had to incorporate a pay-for-performance model.

“The notion of doing development training with the benefit of a bonus has been really successful,” Mullally said.

“We’ve seen an increase in engagement in our program every year.”

With the performance piece of the puzzle in place, it was time to build in the succession plan. And at WCAA, it’s a two-way street. The tool allows employees to post their resumes and to express interest in jobs that are opening or future jobs that may come along. “They can see where they match and where they don’t match,” Mullally said. “They can fill the gap with their development plan and pursue their bonus.”

Managers evaluated employees on succession metrics, including career preferences and what development is needed in the next one to two or three to five years. “The manager is able to rate each employee on their interest in advancement, their interest and capabilities and their succession readiness timeline,” Mullally said.

“We also have them identify the team’s impact of loss and probability of loss.” That latter aspect touches on identifying those who are planning to retire. “We’re able to identify critical roles throughout the organization, not just for our leadership team. We wanted this to be enterprise-wide, to really prepare for succession at all levels.”

And it is paying off. In 2014, when the program launched, 28.6 percent of employees were identified as ready for the next level in a year or two, while 71.4 percent expressed interest. By 2017, 48.9 percent were deemed ready for promotion in the next one to two years, while 82 percent expressed interest.

“This was not intended to pre-select someone for another job,” Mullally said. “It was to focus on where we want to develop employees based on their interest and their current capabilities.

This data is helping to close the gap.”

It also helps that managers are more proactively expressing interest in their careers, she said. “It was unheard of before, for a manager to say, ‘What do you want to do next?’ Now, it opens the conversation. The fact that we are backing this up with the pay-for-performance program provides reinforcement that this is important to the organization, that we want to see them develop and be interested in their own careers.”

While the program was intended to be used throughout the organization, early on it revealed a high probability of loss in senior leadership. That meant a need to develop leaders quickly. A Leadership Academy was launched. Those who participate in the academy network throughout the organization and produce a Capstone team project.

It has allowed the authority to test the talents in tackling issues such as what to do with surplus food. The Leadership Academy’s proposal was so innovative, it earned a state grant.

A related program, a Supervisor Institute, also was launched. It works similarly, but is more streamlined. The robust training program is key to succession planning, Mullally believes.

“That was our vision from the beginning. When we started to implement the learning platform, we knew it had to support succession planning. We had that as our end game, but knew we couldn’t do it without the foundation of learning and performance.”