The past decade has seen great, rapid innovation and leaps forward in the airport industry which is sometimes described as slow-moving compared to other sectors of the economy. Despite the great challenges caused by the COVID -19 crisis, some opportunities arise and leave us no choice but to accelerate innovation and focus on what is essential to our business and our industry to get us to the other side and help us all to adapt to a new normal. And now is the time to innovate beyond technology, but transform our commercial models and how we pay for technology.
Technology will be the key to achieve this necessary transformation
In a recent publication, Airport Council International detailed the key challenges our industry is facing and issued a call to arms for every stakeholder, both public and private, to help ensure we can all bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis and return to growth. One particular aspect of the analysis focused on the highly inflexible cost base of an airport. Such a capital-intensive infrastructure, built to last for several decades clearly doesn’t help when a pandemic crisis hits and you are looking to save money due to drastically falling revenues across the board.
I am driven, as with many of us in this industry, by the passion to continuously improve the way aviation operates and serves its customers. The past decade has seen great, rapid innovation and leaps forward in an industry which is often described as slow moving compared to other sectors of the economy. A rare positive to come from this crisis (apart from time at home) is an acceleration in innovation and focus on what is essential to our business and our industry to get us to the other side, which is where we find ourselves right now.
There is no doubt in my mind that technology will be the key to achieve this necessary transformation and help us to adapt to a new normal, with even more uncertainties and disruptions to manage along the way. Apart from the physical infrastructure (the main driver for capital investment in airports) the way technology is currently designed, procured and implemented does not align with what we will require to ensure we are continuing to innovate and push things forward. With that in mind, we focus on changing the way technology is offered in airports, from a time to market and business model perspective.
Software as a service
Focusing on actual business needs, we use our wealth of experience and expertise in the airport industry to provide fit for purpose solutions, quick to implement (weeks not months or years), based on zero infrastructure (cloud) which is available on a subscription-based model. Think about your broadband at home, would you consider investing in a modem, box, line, etc.? Of course not, you pay a fee based on the length of your commitment, your usage requirements which takes just a few days to set up, subsequently you are able to switch provider and transfer relatively seamlessly. You get the idea.
We have started with targeted solutions to better manage physical resources such as gates and stands. Why have we done this, you may ask?
- Staffing levels available to airports are going to be lower than pre-crisis, so this provides a quick way to automate some key tasks which continue to be manual in many airports
- Restrictive (but helpful and necessary) health and safety measures will remain for some time, probably driving more direct flights to utilise smaller airports in favour of mega hubs
- The existing initiatives to bring more automation to the apron area will probably accelerate, to enable the support of new economic and health realities and having the right data and planning tools will be key to enable this transformation
I believe these are just the beginning of an evolution into a brave new world, however these changes and innovations are definitely required to help transform our industry and propel us towards a greater, safer, thriving future.
ADB SAFEGATE provides integrated solutions that raise efficiency, improve safety, boost environmental sustainability and reduce operational costs for airports, airlines and ANSPs. The company works with airports and airlines to solve operational bottlenecks from approach to departure. Solutions encompass airfield lighting, tower-based traffic control systems, intelligent docking automation and services, as well as applying advanced IT and analytics to deliver industry-leading Total Airport Management. For more information about ADB SAFEGATE, please visit our website at adbsafegate.com.