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Regional director, Patti Chau, reflects on the launch of ACI’s Airport Excellence (APEX) in Security programme and the need for airports to continually grow and adapt the way they do business to meet changing passenger demands.

Without doubt, one of the highlights of this year’s ACI Africa/ACI World Annual Assembly, Conference & Exhibition in Mauritius was the official launch of the Airport Excellence in Security (APEX) programme.

It was particularly pertinent to launch the initiative in Mauritius as the first pilot review for the new programme was undertaken at the island nation’s Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in 2016.

With the continuous and evolving security threats challenging the aviation industry, and a strong demand for compliance with standards coming from ICAO and governments, it has become imperative that airports have the most effective, appropriate, and cost effective security measures in place.

APEX in Security plays a key role in helping airports understand where they can improve, in terms of security standards, best practice and operational efficiency.

Six further pilot reviews have been conducted at member airports in Africa and Asia-Pacific (Indonesia) since the initial one in Mauritius, meaning that APEX in Security is now ready for roll out across the globe.

We are pleased that the programme is now available for airport members and urge you all to consider taking advantage of the opportunity for a peer review of the security operation at your airports.

Embracing change

Aviation by its very nature is an ever-evolving business, so arguably the only constant we can expect in the years ahead is change.

It is therefore essential that all players in the airport community embrace change, and this is particularly important in terms of customer service, as passenger expectation levels have never been so high.

Over the years, airports have transformed themselves from facilities 100% focused on flying to big businesses offering a variety of services both in the terminal, on the airport site and beyond.

Indeed, they have become destinations in their own right and often provide visitors with their first and last impression of a city, region and country.

Customer experience

Airport retail offerings today are impressive, and they will almost certainly get bigger and better in the future to meet demand from passengers that now spend quite a lot of time at airports.

We read about top chefs opening restaurants at airports and we also see plans for casinos and other entertainment facilities. Airports around the world are working hard to go beyond what is traditionally expected of them.

One of the most significant changes is the evolution of passenger expectations. Today’s travellers are generally more knowledgeable and have higher expectations than in the past.

This means that they are more demanding than ever before. Passengers want airports to provide them with digital services and tailored experiences. And they want to be kept informed of developments throughout their journey.

This is a tough task and ensures that airports must continually improve their service levels in order to succeed.

New technology

The introduction of new technology is one of the most commonly adopted approaches by airports in order to improve airport efficiency and passenger convenience.

ACI certainly recognises the importance of airport digital transformation and has established a Task Force to produce a White Paper on the topic.

Airport digital transformation entails the use of technology to create new businesses, radically improve performance, and expand the reach of enterprises.

Our focus isn’t, however, on implementing the new technologies but on transforming airports so that they can take advantage of them. In other words, we are focusing on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’.

At ACI, we also encourage the application of biometrics at airports and are enthused that airport operators are at the forefront of industry efforts to apply biometric technology to passenger facilitation.

To simplify passenger flows, we are in support of IATA’s ‘Single Token’ concept, where a passengers’ identity is verified and authenticated by matching their passport and their biometrics only once during their journey through an airport.

Asia-Pacific pioneers

Examples of pioneering leadership in innovative, facilitation-enhancing new technology in our region include Singapore Changi’s newly opened Terminal 4, which has introduced a facial recognition, self-service option for bag-drop, immigration and boarding.

Facial recognition technology is also available at Beijing Capital International Airport as it looks to streamline passenger flows and improve efficiency.

In terms of how technology could help improve the passenger experience, ACI also supports the use of beacon technology. An example of how this technology can be used to good effect can be found at Hong Kong International Airport, which uses it to send information that includes the latest retail and F&B offerings to passengers via the ‘HKG My Flight’ App.

Regional Assembly

Technology and security will certainly be high on the agenda at our 2018 Regional Assembly, Conference and Exhibition, which will be held in Narita from April 23-25. Indeed, one of the sessions will be dedicated to Smart Security.

I can tell you that our team is working closely with our host, Narita Airport, on developing an exciting and dynamic programme for the event, which will be available very soon.

In Narita, you will also be presented with the opportunity to experience the latest airport products, services and technology from our exhibitors, so I very much look forward to seeing you there!

Three year plan

Looking ahead, we are excited about our three-year strategic plan, which has just been approved by the Regional Board.

The plan will guide us in strengthening our services to members and I look forward to your continued support in 2018 so that together, we can become stronger as the voice of Asia-Pacific’s airports.


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