Improving Passenger Facilitation
Global passenger traffic is expected to increase by 5.8% annually over the next 5 years. This underlines a challenge for passengers, governments and the aviation industry.
The IATA Passenger Facilitation Program is aiming at providing an end-to-end passenger experience that is secure, seamless and efficient with a focus on crucial areas such as security, border protection and immigration.
Following September 11th increased and inconsistent security requirements continue to add costs to the industry. Air travelers assign their most negative ratings to the time spent through airport security screening. The screening process is often described by passengers as stressful and invasive. The multiple stakeholders around the security process including airport operators, airlines, and multiple government agencies make security process improvements a complex challenge to tackle. Each of these stakeholders have operational goals to improve efficiency, security and passenger experience.
Passenger Facilitation studies have been conducted at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Punta Cana International airport recently. These are the main outcomes:
Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport
A passenger may queue up to nine times (depending on the destination) until he finally boards the aircraft. IATA has come up with a number of suggestions to improve the end-to-end passenger process and to facilitate a seamless, secure and efficient passenger journey. The study was conducted with the active support and participation of the Office of Transport Security (OTS) of the Department of Transport.
The focus is on reducing queues and waiting times by shifting certain activities off airport. The Philippines is one of the few countries in ASEAN to collect terminal fees at the airport. The payment of the passenger tax should be included at the point of sales. The Manila Airport Authority (MIAA) has already started this procedure for domestic airline operations and is currently working with IATA to define a procedure to efficiently collect and refund the passenger tax for international operations.
Another initiative promoted by IATA will offer more self-service options such as web and kiosk check-in, widely adopted currently by other airports in Asia.
In addition, the centralized security checkpoint right after immigration can be optimized through a more flexible queuing system which can be adapted in peak times and by offering dedicated screening to specific categories of passengers, including a fast track lane for premium passengers.
All stakeholders involved recognized change must happen and while they wait for the government’s decision on the long term plan for NAIA, a collaborative spirit in improving basic processes will maximize capacity utilization and provide a better passenger experience.
Punta Cana International Airport
Punta Cana International Airport is one of the busiest and best connected airports in the Caribbean. The airport is built in a traditional Dominican style with open-air terminals with roofs covered in palm fronds. Currently, there are 5 million annual passenger movements with an estimated growth of 9%.
The Passenger Facilitation study was conducted at the beginning of February with the full support of the operators of the airport, Grupo Punta Cana. Rafael Alberto Smith, Director Operations Landside, states:
"We strongly recommend the Passenger Facilitation Gap Analysis as an excellent tool to identify areas of improvement within the passenger process throughout the check point. It provides precise and assertive over look of the current situation and future direction where you need to go to enhance your passenger service/experience. The analysis provides a better understanding of the entire process from an outside perspective and brings recommendations based on a highly objective evaluation".