Spaces of Consumerism: Airports

Introduction

 

I will be discussing the consumer culture in reference to the different spaces of consumption of Stansted Airport and its only terminal, along with the consumer experience it provides. 

In particular, I will be focussing on the consumer journey from the Duty Free shop into the main departure lounge in their terminal and the idea that passengers already leave the ground as soon as they enter the terminal.

Consumer culture focuses on the spending of the customer money on material goods to attain a lifestyle in a capitalist economy.  There is considered to be individual acts of consumption as a part of large processes of consumer culture. 

Furthermore, it identifies the freedom to exercise private and personal choices that as a result, is a principle at the heart of consumer culture and consumption with social class tend to go hand-in-hand.

Airport

 

First of all, I will discuss the architectural designs and their different functions inside airports.

Airports are often considered to be a ‘third place’, a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, who states: ‘the third place refers to a social setting distinct from both home (the first place) and work (the second place).’  

Which derives from the concept that humans gravitate to settings that provide fluidity between home and workplace and creates a neutral crossword of culture and function.

The passenger security functions at airports comes down to three main things: departing, arriving and waiting; but those three actions branch into further detail: “the architectural design of the terminal building was required to serve three functions: the processing of passengers, baggage and freight, control and transfer rituals, and protection against external influences” (Airworld: 2004:37). 

Once passenger safety is assured, there is then a change in focus to the the time they spend waiting, which airports pay most attention to capitalising.  It is the opportunity for passengers to consume and the airports are designed to encourage you to spend your own money.

Following on from this, it is the time that passengers spend after getting through security but before boarding their flight which is considered the ‘golden hour’.  The ‘golden hour’ is a term coined by airport guru, Holly Buckner, and it is the prime spending period that airports and retailers have an agreement to try maximise their revenues and profit margins.

Julian Lukaszewicz, a senior business designer at Designit and former lecturer in aviation management says: “Many airports want to prolong and expand this hour, because that translates revenues”, therefore, the simple equation which comes with this is the more time passengers spent in the ‘golden hour’, equates to the more money spent and made.

Architect, Matt Honegger, mulls on the transformation of airports into purposefully built designs that always meet customer demands and business requirements: “Over the past decades, airports have transformed from transportation hubs to a new kind of entity.  Part shopping mall, part cultural centre and part Town Square, recent research indicates the airport is on the cusp of emerging as a cornerstone of 21st Century civic life.”

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Airport terminals in the 21st Century cannot not simply just provide, what once were, the primary function of an airport: the efficient processing and optimum flow of passengers.  They must now capitalise and satisfy the demands of consumer society in non-aeronautical revenue and offer a range of shopping, dining and drinking, which as a result, due to the variety in all three determines social diversity.

There are many examples of this at Stansted Airport: for example Hugo Boss vs Next, Lacoste vs JD Sport. It becomes a social distinction and this undoubtedly summarises consumer culture in the 21st Century.

For airport executives and airport architects, the changes taking place in airports around the world represent a natural evolution of existing trends, as well as a categorical shift that turns the airport into a cultural hub: “Airports had come to symbolise progress, freedom, trade and the aspirations of their host nations on the international stage.” (Airports A Century of Architecture, 2004:9).

 

The terminal at Stansted Airport offers exactly this.  Although it attempts to appease cultural differences in variation of places for food and drink in the departure lounge, such as: sushi restaurant, Itsu, North American fast-dining, Burger King and Joe & The Juice and then the traditional British, J.D. Wetherspoons.  But it also introduces different cultural backgrounds to traditional British heritage brands, such as: Mulberry and Ted Baker.

 

Duty Free

 

My first example of spaces of consumption in the consumer journey begins at the Duty Free shop, which is the space you identify with freedom once you have been regurgitated from the stressful ordeal, that is, security and into a space of consumption. 

It is believed that passengers are likely to be in an indulgent mood after dealing with the anxiety of checking-in and security: intervistas report, titled Maximizing Airport Retail Revenue describes this as the “re-composure zone”.  It adds “The view of the retail environment will cue the customer’s brain that it is time to shop.” Stansted Airport attempts to do this, by building the understanding with its consumers that once you reach duty free, your holiday can begin and the pursestrings can loosen.

 

The Duty Free area in an airport can be considered as a practice of display and desire: Julian Lukaszewicz, business designer at Designit and a former lecturer in aviation management says: “the classic airport design forces the passenger flow through the duty-free store, while people often have to walk through a duty-free shop again in order to reach their gates.”

 

The walkway is designed to create optimum flow amongst the passengers, whilst sometimes losing themselves into the immaculate displays of high end retail on one side, such as perfume, cologne and makeup, and then on the other side can be toys and chocolate.

However, through lenient rules on free perfume testing and alcohol tasting, it allows all consumers to practice social distinction and gives them all a level of satisfaction in their desires as an attempt to narrow the division in social class.

The function of the walkway in the terminals Duty Free shop is mastered: “The terminal creates a stoical environment that transforms individuals into an orderly passenger flow” (The Architecture of British Transportation in the Twentieth Century 2004:54).

Although curving it alternating direction, forcing you to indulge in the space of consumption, it is always layered with different colour tiling.  This is so that consumers can psychologically distinguish the floor space from consuming and dwell time to orderly passenger flow. 

The airport communicates when you are considered a consumer to when you are not through design as to when you part with the black walkway floor, you instantly become a potential customer.

Main Departure Lounge

 

My second example of spaces of consumption at Stansted Airport is the main departure lounge once you make it through the Duty Free shop.  Though, similarly to Duty Free the consumption is a practice of display and desire to begin with for some audiences: “Passengers are now seen as a captive market for retailing” (A Century of Architecture 2004:10).

The architectural designs purposely encourage this; especially because the walkway begins by curving round to the left or more than one occasion. 

The thought-process behind this design is because majority of passengers are considered to be right handed and pull their suitcases with their strongest hand, forcing them to walk anticlockwise, which as a result, will mean they will look to the the right more than the left says Intervistas report.

Therefore, as you can see there are far more shops congregated on the right than the left and arguably more affordable shops, which will most likely get a higher footfall with disposable income. 

Whereas, shops like Mulberry is an example of display and desire, as majority of passengers won’t be as willing to spend in there but instead just enjoy the looking and feelings part of consuming.

As for comfortability, the seating area is located in the centre of surrounding shops and takes ; so even when you are relaxing, you are still forced to consume.  However, a sign of social distinction at Stansted Airport terminal would be the location of the luxury lounge.  In the top left corner is the Escape Lounge, where you literally escape consumption but it comes with an initial price or privilege.  The Escape Lounge offers complimentary food and drink and free WIFI. 

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Presumably, the passengers who gain access to the Escape Lounge will have a larger disposable income, therefore, but removing their expenses of food and drink but increasing their comfort it should increase spending: Page 54: “Airports are volatile environments where the comfort and a reassuring design are essential to mitigate stress.” (The Architecture of British Transportation in the Twentieth Century 2004:54).

Modern Evolution

 

Airport technology is always evolving, becoming more and more efficient, for example, self-service check-ins and smartphone boarding.  If you consider yourself to be a minimalist, all you need is a phone and passport nowadays.  Whilst when you are buying food and beverage for the flight at WHSmiths or Boots, self-service kiosk could speed-up your experience as well. 

Each addition has inevitably led to a change in business model, repurposing of new space and facilities to encourage maximum satisfaction and spending.  But this came with the change in demand of passenger flow and their mindsets: “The design of terminals has had to adjust to massively increased security screening procedures in the aftermath of terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.” (Airports: A Century of Architecture 2004:11).

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, for precautionary reasons, the time spent going through security has increased, but so has the footfall.  Therefore, more people are spending more time in airports.

In order to keep passengers entertainment and sane, Stansted Airport offers all 4 hours free WIFI, for those who rely on their phone for time-consuming entertainment.  Furthermore, you can indulge yourself into the shopping facilities, such as: makeup, beauty, accessories and technology.  But, Stansted Airport has developed a social scene, where you can enjoy drinks before your flight at Wetherspoons or Cabin, or fill your stomach at restaurant ranging from fast-food to caviar.

If you are a membership at the Escape Lounge, you will have access to live sport and world news, which is another way passengers are offered to fill their time.

But the introduction of airport technology is not solely for consumer benefit.  Mr Lukaszewicz says: “It’s so passengers don’t waste their time in a security queue when they could be spending.”

 

Conclusion

 

To conclude, the space and the different uses of it inside Stansted Airport reproduce social and cultural values and preferred meaning.  The meaning of the passengers actions and behaviours coincides with the space in which you are forced to act and behave.  Therefore, if you are plonked into a space of consumption for a matter of an hour or two, you will have no choice but to consume in order to avoid boredom, but also to blend in.

The evolution and design of airport terminals is forever growing and by adding more retail and dining options can only be a short-term solution.  But the initial design of Stansted Airport allowed it to be flexible and become the ultimate high-tech airport: “The ultimate high-tech airport is Stansted (design: Norman Foster, 1986-91) which marries the glorified hangar with the nineteenth-century railway station. Stansted, too, aspires to be a single terminal building capable, thanks to its modular structure, of being endlessly extended with new modules without any sense of alienation from the mother building.” (Airworld, 2004:60).

So how do we prepare for the vast programmatic changes already reshaping today’s airports?

First, by being frank with ourselves, and admitting that simply adding more retail or dining options is not enough, and second, by redesigning the airport itself to seize the opportunities available in this vast new frontier. 

All this begins by examining what passengers are looking for beyond a place to buy a magazine, recharge their mobile phone, and wait for a plane.

Historically, airports have been regarded as non-places or a necessary pause between where one is and where one is headed. As industry professionals, it is our job to turn that non-place into a ‘third place’.

That one can go ice skating or host a birthday party in an airport doesn’t suggest we’re spending too much time in airports. Instead, it suggests we’re building our lives around the idea of global transport. 

 

 

Bibliography

Vitra Design Museum, Airworld., 2004 [Accessed:  December 2018]

H. Pearman, Airports: A Century of Architecture., 2004 [Accessed:  December 2018]

J Holder & S Parissien, The Architecture of British Transportation in the Twentieth Century., 2004 [Accessed:  December 2018]

R. Atkins & D Weinland, Airport Retailers Look To Make Every Minute Count., 2017 [Online]

https://www.ft.com/content/5628f254-778e-11e7-90c0-90a9d1bc9691

Aviation Media, Culture and Function: ‘Airports Have Transformed From Transportation Hubs Into Shopping Malls’., 2013 [Online]

http://www.airport-world.com/features/airport-design/2182-culture-and-function.html

S.Kim, The Surprising Reason Why Airport Walkways Bend To The Left., 2017 [Online]

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/lists/how-airports-make-you-spend-duty-free-shopping/

Illustrations

DFNI Frontier, Cadbury drives footfall at World Duty Free Stansted with digital game., 2018 [Accessed: December 2018]

Cadbury drives footfall at World Duty Free Stansted with digital game

TR Business, Exclusive:  Stansted rises after major retail revamp., 2016 [Accessed: December 2018]

https://www.trbusiness.com/regional-news/europe/exclusive-stansted-rises-following-major-retail-project/101154

Escape Lounges, Find US., 2018 [Accessed: December 2018]

http://www.escapelounges.com/escape-lounges/london-stansted/

Aviation Safety Strategies at Airports

Aviation Safety Strategies at Airports within the United Arab Emirates
One of the major issues that is relevant directly to airports, their management and operations is that of safety. It is the one area of the airport business that bound to cause concern to all of the business stakeholders, which includes airline operators, employees and the travel public. Recently, the international and regional airport and aviation authorities have developed a Safety Strategic Plan, which is recommended for use by all airports, indeed such a plan will become compulsory from January 2009.

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However, the development and implementation of such a plan is only the first step in the process. What is more important is that the plan is operated in practice in a manner that ensures its efficiency and effectiveness in addressing the issues that it has been designed for, namely to reduce and eliminate the potential for risk in safety issues.
With the continual growth of air travel and the fact that this standard has only recently been developed it was felt that there was a need to study whether there is the willingness and necessary processes within the airport organisational structure to commit to making this plan work. Using airports within the UAE as an example, due the regions higher than global average growth of air travel, it was found that in some areas, specifically management commitment, resources and knowledge, there were areas of difficulty that needed to be addressed, particularly if the airport industry wishes to retain the confidence and trust of those that it serves, and specifically to ensure that air travel retains its safe operation record.
Table of Contents (Jump to)
 
Chapter 1 – Introduction
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Aims and Objectives
1.3 Overview
Chapter 2 – Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Airports and air travel
2.3 Airport operations
2.4 Airport safety
2.5 Regulations and legislation
2.6 Summary
Chapter 3 – Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Choice of research method
3.3 Secondary data
3.4 The questionnaires
3.4 Performance of the research
Chapter 4 – Analysis of Questionnaire’s
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Part 1
4.3 Part 2
Chapter 5 – Discussion and Analysis
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Discussion
Chapter 6 – Recommendations
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Industry recommendations
6.3 Further research
Chapter 1 – Introduction 
1.1 Introduction
As Dr Tarib Cherif (2008), general secretary of the ICAO[1] said in his introduction to an airport aviation summit held in Abu Dhabi in January, “Airport and airspace congestion in certain parts of the world are currently stretching sir navigation and ground facilities to the limit.” Furthermore, as this address goes on to add, with expected increases in global air traffic set to achieve growth of nearly 6% on average during the course of the next few years, with some areas of the world seeing double this figure, this will increase the pressure on all airport facilities and operations. Similarly, as the numbers of air travellers grows, the size of aircraft needed to carry this passenger load will also increase, as has been seen with the introduction of the latest European Airbus A380. Such aircraft will also add to the pressure at airports, both in terms of the flight operations and handling of extra passengers at times of boarding and alighting times (Wong 2008).
With the advent of these changes, none of the airport resources will become more tested than those involved with strategic airport safety systems. Safety at airports is a complex issue that affects virtually every aspect of the airport authority’s operations and, in addition, it relates to all of the resources being utilised, which includes the buildings, airfields, air traffic control, internal transportation methods, passenger controls procedures and the business employees. As such, it can be seen to be an issue of significant importance to the welfare of those who use these facilities, which include the airline operators who both have operational hubs at the particular airport location and those who use the location as destination points.
As with any other aspect of corporate management within airports, the effectiveness and efficient operations of safety systems within this environment need to be established and maintained through a process of strategic planning and monitoring, a process that has to be kept continually under review to ensure that it is regular upgraded to take into account the changing demands brought about by increased passenger loads, flight frequency and aircraft design and capacity. It is therefore important that the safety requirements of all areas if the airports supply chain are incorporated within this planning process. Furthermore, insofar as security issues such as terrorism impact upon safety issues, these also have to be incorporated within the strategic planning stage of safety system development.
Because of the high level of important that airport operational safety has for all of the business stakeholders, if follows that the concerns of these various interested parties is not only that the airports are developing safety strategic plans, but that these are being embraced by all those who work within the organisation and implemented and monitored in a manner that can be relied upon to deliver the expected performance levels and objectives, with is to ensure the safety of all and striving to address and reduce areas of safety risk. Incidents such as a near miss on runways near miss, accidents and terrorist acts within airport concourses and other safety related issues heighten concerns about airport safety and bring into question the quality of safety procedures that are in force at these locations. It is these issues that have formed the motivation for this research, namely can there be confidence and trust in the airport strategic safety planning and implementation process?
To provide a starting position for continued research into the issue of strategic safety planning and systems in airports, this study has concentrated solely upon the current situation as it has developed within the airports of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This region was chosen because its size, with only six airports in total, together with the fact that is still in the process of international airport development, means that it provides a more appropriate area to begin this analysis and evaluation because strategic safety systems might be in an embryonic stage. In addition, as will be seen within the analysis of existing data in the literature review in chapter two, the Middle East is one of the fastest growing regions in the world in terms of air travel. Furthermore, with the limited number of airport within a limited area it was anticipated that, by choosing to focus the study on two airports in the region, the results would be a fair representation of the state of strategic safety planning in the region generally.
1.2 Aims and Objectives
The aim of this research is to provide an assessment on whether airport authorities have engaged with and embraced the process of strategic planning for the development of an airport safety system and, if so, to what extent these have been successfully implemented and maintained. In essence, the aim of the research can therefore be encapsulated within the following hypothesis: –
“To provide a clear understanding of the development and operational impact of the process strategic safety planning process within the six main airports that exist within the United Arab Emirates and identify whether these are efficiently implemented.”
To enable the achievement of these goals, it is intended to work towards addressing the following objectives: –

To evaluate the needs and requirement of safety system maintenance and monitoring within the changing air travel environment.
To provide an overview of the level of understanding and competency of airport personnel from the analysis of primary data responses.
To provide an assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the strategic safety planning process when experienced within a practical environment. This is be achieved by examining the results collected from primary data resources.

It is felt that the above objectives will enable the research to provide a meaningful conclusion to the issues being addressed as well as allowing for recommendations for the future to be included where these are considered to be appropriate.
1.3 Overview
The study has been organised in a manner that enables a logical continuity of development of the issues that have been addressed and the way the research itself has been conducted, which is intended to add clarity of understanding for the reader. The following explanation therefore provides an overview of the study format.
Within chapter two, which commences following this introduction, a critical literature review is provided, within which analysis an evaluation into previous literature and studies into the issues of air travel, airport operations and safety performance issues with be addressed. It will also be used to highlight some of the areas of concerns that have been encountered by other researches on these subjects. Moving on to chapter three, the research design and methodology will be explained in greater detail. This will incorporate the author’s reasoning for the research method that has been chosen together with an explanation of how any constraints and limitations have been addressed. Furthermore, to enable others to following the logic of this study a short explanation of the data collection methods and research performance is also included. The findings from the primary research that has been conducted in support of the aims and objectives of this study, are presented in chapter four, and these will be analysed and discussed in further details in chapter five, where they will also be compared and evaluated by other existing data. As a result of these discussions, and where pertinent, appropriate recommendations will be presented in chapter six. These will relate both to the practical issues being faced by airport authorities when dealing with strategic safety planning and implementation, and suggest areas where further research may add more value and knowledge to this particular discipline. The study is then brought to a conclusion in chapter seven. Following the conclusion of this research paper, a list of reference sources is attached together with appendices, which includes additional information and data that was considered to be helpful in adding understanding to the study content. For example, detailed responses to primary data activity falls within this category.
Chapter 2 – Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
Business research studies set in isolation in general prove to be of little value except as forming a foundation for future research into the same issues. However, such researches are of more immediate interest where they have been set within, and compared with, the existing published literature and studies conducted within the same discipline. This critical literature review has been included with that purpose in mind. For reasons of clarity and understanding it has been segmented into three specific sections.
2.2 Airports and air travel
As was quoted from Dr Cherif’s (2008) address in the introduction to this study, air travel is continuing to see growth levels of around 6%, or to be more accurate 5.8% for the industry as a whole (see table 1). However, as this table indicates this is not being achieved by a balanced pattern when one analyses the position on a regional basis, as the same table, which covers the movements of around 94% of all international scheduled airline flights, although it does exclude the domestic travel, shows.
It is clear from this analysis that whilst North America and Europe has reached what could be considered a point of relative saturation, in other areas of the world there have been significant growth and losses being achieved. In terms of losses Africa is the major loser in terms of passenger travel and, joined with Latin America, is also losing its share of freight travel.
Table 1 Current air travel growth statistics

March 2008

 

RPK

ASK

 

FTK

ATK

v March 2007

Growth

Growth

PLF

Growth

Growth

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Africa

 

-4.30%

-6.00%

70.10%

-22.60%

-10.80%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Asia / Pacific

4.30%

4.90%

76.50%

1.70%

2.10%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Europe

 

3.70%

4.00%

77.50%

1.90%

3.70%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Latin America

19.70%

15.80%

75.30%

-15.20%

13.50%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Middle East

 

15.40%

16.30%

74.90%

15.20%

17.30%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

North America

6.30%

6.10%

82.80%

8.80%

3.50%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Industry

 

5.80%

6.00%

77.70%

3.30%

4.20%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

YTD 2008

 

RPK

ASK

 

FTK

ATK

v YTD 2007

 

Growth

Growth

PLF

Growth

Growth

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Africa

 

-0.30%

-2.50%

69.60%

-11.90%

-4.70%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Asia / Pacific

5.90%

5.50%

76.50%

2.60%

-3.00%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Europe

 

4.20%

5.40%

74.00%

4.70%

5.50%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Latin America

21.90%

19.60%

74.90%

-10.80%

12.80%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Middle East

 

14.30%

15.00%

74.80%

15.80%

15.00%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

North America

6.50%

6.80%

78.00%

7.80%

4.70%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Industry

 

6.60%

6.90%

75.60%

4.40%

4.10%

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Explanation of measurement terms:

RPK: Revenue Passenger Kilometres measures actual passenger traffic
ASK: Available Seat Kilometres measures available passenger capacity
PLF: Passenger Load Factor is % of ASKs used. In comparison of 2007 to 2006, PLF indicates point differential between the periods compared
FTK: Freight Tonne Kilometres measures actual freight traffic

ATK: Available Tonne Kilometres measures available total capacity (combined passenger and cargo)

Source: http://www.iata.org/pressroom/facts_figures/traffic_results/2008-05-02-01.htm
However, what is more important in terms of the objectives of this research is the position being achieved within the Middle East, both in respect of the month against month and year to date comparisons. In terms of passenger and freight air travel this region has experienced a growth rate in excess of 15%, which, when considered against a 74.9% passenger load factor, indicates that there has been a considerable increase in the number of travellers that area using the UAE airport facilities. Furthermore, in terms of its share of the international passenger market, the UAE now accommodates around 8% (see figure 1).
When this is compared with the share that the region held as of 2001 (see figure 2), it confirms that the region’s air travel passenger growth pattern is increasing at significant rate, quadrupling in the space of the past six years, with similar growth being achieved within the freight market share.
It is apparent from these increases that, when compared with airlines in other areas of the world market, the Middle East airport systems are having to contend with a level of change in the services and products that they provide to the travelling passenger. In addition, the increase in the numbers of flights and operators using the airport facilities present these airports with additional pressures in terms of air traffic control and other infrastructure issues (Wells and Rodrigus 2003).
2.3 Airport operations
As Anne Graham (2003, p. 98-99) in her study of airports and their management has rightly observed, the increase in air traffic and indeed the shape of airline travel, has changed dramatically during the course of the past few decades. Growth of passengers and changes in their expectations has led to an increase in the number of facilities being offered in an effort to improve the traveller’s experience. This includes the expansion of retail and refreshment areas within the waiting areas and departure lounges (Graham 2003, p.100). This aspect of the airport expansion of revenue attracting resources has now become a significant contributor to the airport’s total revenue (Graham 2003, p.147). In addition, the airports have had to respond with major improvements to their sites in order to cater for the increase in aircraft traffic, which has in some cases included additional runways and maintenance facilities and well as administrative offices for these corporations. An example of this expansion can be seen in the development and improvements that have been made to the Abu Dhabi airport over paste few years (News 2008). As this article, following a doubling of passenger traffic between 1998 and 2006, with this growth expected to continue at around 30% by 2010, the airport authority has invested in excess of $230 million in increasing the runways and other internal facilities being offered by the airport. The Dubai airport underwent a similar process of transformation in the 1970’s and 1980’s (DIA History 2008).
The relationship between the airports and the airlines that it services has also changed, especially following the successes and growth of the “low-cost” or budget sector (Graham 2003, p.100). Not only did this mean that these airlines no longer required the lavish offices and passenger reception lounges that were available to them in the past (Delfmann et al 2005), but because of the nature and small margins of the low-cost airline model there have been increasing demands made upon the airport industry to reduce the carrier cost, for example by these carriers seeking reduction in landing fees (Wells and Rodregues 2003. Delfmann et al 2005 and Graham 2003). With the budget airlines being willing to transfer their business to secondary airports, who were prepared in most cases to cooperate over these issues, the major airports found themselves under increasing pressure to follow suite. Furthermore, part of the cost saving exercise for the low-cost carrier’s have been achieved by a process of improving turnaround times at airports (Wells and Rodrigues 2003). This is another issue that creates pressure for the airport, both in terms of the changes in the performance levels needed by air traffic control and then additional speed and resources that needs to be attached to enable the ancillary services, such as baggage handling to carry out their tasks.
However, perhaps the major issue that is affected by the growth in air travel for the airports, in addition to the extra facilities provided and the developing and changing relationship they have with the airlines, is in the area of safety.
2.4 Airport safety
As mentioned before, airport safety is of paramount importance (Graham 2003). This applies to the activities that take place within the terminal building, the airfield itself and the surrounding areas and ancillary services and facilities. For those who use the airport safety and comfort are paramount to their enjoyment (Delfman et al 2005, p.564) of the airport terminal facilities. Similarly, with rapid aircraft turnarounds, keeping runways and taxiing areas safe and working efficiently has an equal level of importance.
Safety and security is part of the same process within an airport environment and it is important for the authority controlling these facilities to ensure that the standards employed to maintain the safety of such an environment (Wells and Rodrigues 2003), by ensuring that the right level and content of safety measures is in force at all times and, furthermore, that these measures include a process for regular monitoring and changing as and when the changes in the environment suggests is necessary (Graham 2003). Amongst other issues this means being able to identify and address issues such as hazards that my cause concerns within or external to the facility (Graham 2003, p.111). Another important element is the training and awareness programmes needed for all of the employees (Wells 2005 and Graham 2003) aimed to ensure that a) safety rules are obeyed and b) that in the event of a safety incident the employees is able to respond rapidly and efficiently to resolve the problem.
In addition to the importance of safety measures for the obvious practical needs, the airport also have a duty to maintain these standards simply in order to ensure that their procedures comply with the relevant regulations and legislation that apply to their industry and operations.
2.5 Regulations and legislation
Internationally, the airports have to comply with many of the safety regulations and standards that have been set by the ICAO, which lays down certain procedures that must be carried out in the cases of safety breaches, for example accidents, injury and illness (Wells and Rodrigues 2005, p.72). In 2002, the ICAO was responsible for the adoption of the “Aviation Security Plan of Action”, which also included within its structure the safety aspects of running an airport (Graham 2003, p.259).
In an effort to ensure that the airport employees are sufficiently aware of and trained in the internationally accepted standards, the ICAO has produced a number of publications and runs training workshops (Wells and Roderigues 2005, p.99). Although the airport authorities are not obliged to use these facilities, they do have to ensure that their own training methods are sufficient to ensure that the key safety personnel within the business are qualified to the requirements laid down within the international standards. In the case of the UAE, the responsibility for airport operations and security and safety issues is dealt with through the regions own General Civil Aviation Authority, whose role and regulations reflects that of the international organisation.
Recently, the ICAO/GCAA have developed and introduced a programme known as Safety Strategic Plans. The intention is that every airport will be required to have such a document in written format within their operational facilities and that every employee must be trained and have complete knowledge of the safety procedures that are in force within the total airport complex. This document will have all the necessary reporting forms included and contain procedures for the monitoring of the safety programme in the practical environment (GACC). In addition to internal monitoring and auditing of the implemented safety strategic plan, the intention is that in the future, representatives from this organisations will act as external monitors to ensure that the safety standards and requirements are being adhered to by the individual airport. At present this plan is a voluntary process, but it will become mandatory from the beginning of 2009 (ICAO).
The ICAO and GCAA standards are directly related to safety as it impacts specifically upon airports and airlines (Graham 2003, p.111). However, in addition to these regulations, or in some cases incorporated within them, the airport will also be regulated by the other national health and safety legislation.
2.6 Summary
It can be seen from the research into previous and current literature that the air travel industry has changed significantly over the past few decades. Changes in the structure of the airlines, with the introduction of the low-cost carrier have led to a rapid expansion of the numbers of passengers that travel by air, with this growth expected to continue for the foreseeable future. This growth rate, which in the UAE is running at three times the global average, is placing additional pressure upon airport operations and their management. Responding to the loss of revenue as airlines have reduced their use of terminal facilities, the airports have reacted by increasing retail space and other facilities. However, the other impact that expansion of air travel has had is to bring additional pressure to bear upon existing airport facilities. An area that is of particular concern as a result of this situation is that of safety, both within the terminal complex and in the external areas of the airport. In an effort to address these concerns, the national, regional and international regulators are developing a safety strategic plan, which is intended to ensure that safety systems are maintained at a level that is sufficient to meet the current demands of the airport environment. The findings presented in chapter five and subsequent discussions and analysis in chapter six will assess how successful these new safety developments have been in practice.
Chapter 3 – Methodology
3.1 Introduction
One of the difficulties with addressing an issue such as the performance of safety programmes within an airport environment is that, because of the delicacy of the issue, incidences that can be deemed to have resulted from a breach of these regulations or poor implementation and monitori