Airport profile: Keflavík
Special report: ASQ Winners
Plus: Democratising Data, People Matters & Sustainability

Worth the wait

Editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the development of key aviation infrastructure in this ‘master planning & design’ themed issue of Airport World.

With so much at stake for local communities, economies and the environment, getting planning mission to build new runways and terminals at existing airports has always been a long and complicated process.

When I first started out as a journalist in the early 1980s, it was generally accepted by airports that it would take a least a decade for them to get approval for a new runway, and considerbly longer for a new passenger terminal, concourse or satellite pier.

There are, after all, environmental concerns to address, hearts and minds to be won in neighbouring communities, airlines to convince that the new facilities are the best way forward for them, and, of course, the small question of finding the funds to pay for the new infrastructure.

I have been lucky enough to experience and witness, at first hand, many incredible new facilities and greenfield aiports being built over the years, including Terminal’s 2, 4 and 5 at London Heathrow, Budapest’s Sky Court and Toronto Pearson’s Terminal 1 as well as the new airports in Athens, Oslo and Incheon, where at the latter I was actually on site during its construction.

With regards to Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the planning approval process took eight years from first application to government approval, and involved a public inquiry which began on May 16, 1995, and ended on March 17, 1999. It sat for a total of 525 days, cost £80 million and heard something like 700 witnesses.

The long and costly public inquiry – at the time the longest planning inquiry ever held in the UK – delayed the opening of the terminal until March 2008, 15 years after the then owners BAA submitted a formal planning application for its construction.

It might have taken longer than Heathrow wanted, but at least Terminal 5 happened, which is more than can be said for many projects that never make it past the drawing board for a whole host of reasons.

As ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, reiterates in his ‘view from the top’ article on page 9 of this issue, the importance of prioritising sustainability in airport planning cannot be underestimated.

Indeed, in today’s more environmentally conscious world where images of global climate change can be seen across the planet on an almost weekly basis – the unprecented rainfall and flooding in Dubai and Oman being the most recent examples as we went to press – it is arguably imperative that all new airport facilities are sustainably built, managed and operated.

As you would expect, we cover a significant number of airport development projects from across the globe in the ‘master planning & design’ themed section of Airport World.

The features include a review of projects that are either planned, underway or have recently been completed at 12 airports in the US, Colombia, Italy, India, Kuwait, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.

Elsewhere in the themed section we find out more about the sense of place strategy behind the transformation of Manchester Airport’s retail offering; the role HOK and Arup are playing in the ongoing upgade of LAX; and how rising traffic demand is driving development at US airports.

Our main airport feature shines the spotlight on Keflavík Airport and CEO, Sveinbjörn Indridason, who tells us more about the growth and development of Iceland’s gateway to the world.

Elsewhere in the issue we turn the spotlight on airports that have been recognised for their customer experience excellence in ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards; discuss the benefits of democratising data; and highlight some of the latest airport sustainability initiatives.

The importance of paying more attention to designing people centric working environments takes centre stage in our regular ‘people matters’ column; and we also report on the latest news from ACI and ACI’s World Business Partners (WBP).

I hope you enjoy the issue and look forward to seeing you in Riyadh in May for the ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East/ACI World Annual General Assembly, Conference and Exhibition in Riyadh.

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