What is your right to exist?

27 mei 2019

The increased attention to climate change, changes our attitude towards flying. Although there is no decrease in the number of flights yet, people are finding it less ‘normal’ to hop on a plane for a short flight. There are also more excuses for flying, like: “It is a problem that has to be dealt with internationally,” or “Just me not flying, will not change that much”.

The notion that “hop-on flying” may come to an end all together, is growing. A consequence of that is, that airport growth soon may not be an issue anymore at all. Some signs of that can be seen in deadlocked discussions about the economic importance of an airport versus the environmental impact on the areas in which they are located; how important is the airport for our regional economy? Why should it grow?

These kinds of discussions are now starting in the Netherlands. For instance, about Rotterdam The Hague Airport. It has been suggested that the region should focus more on the knowledge industry, fuelled by the expansion of the Technical University Delft (TU Delft), rather than to focus on the growth of the airport and it is even suggested that the airport should be converted into a park. ‘The mix of high-quality knowledge companies and housing possibilities (once the airport has vanished) provides also economic value to the region,’ is the reasoning.

Regional airports themselves are also starting to realise that an airport solely for holiday flights does not contribute enough to the regional economy and that support for that type of flights is declining. Added value to the region is becoming increasingly more important for the airport’s existence strategy. Eindhoven Airport for instance has taken on the adagio that the airport is part of the services for the Brainport region (a growing regional innovative technology initiative around Eindhoven), just as much as the International School and the opera house are, according to Eindhoven Airport CEO Joost Meijs. “We used to focus solely on the growth of the airport. Now it is time to link the development of the airport to the development of Brainport.”

Open Airport Platform

The era of getting public support by sponsoring events or creating parks and playgrounds in areas effected most by landing and starting airplanes is over. Today it is about concrete and substantial contributions to the region: creating jobs and learning opportunities, providing services and being a breeding ground for new businesses.

Rotterdam The Hague Airport is incorporating these conditions in their strategy, by connecting with city councils, the province of South Holland and TU Delft in forming an Airport Technology Fieldlab , to create education opportunities and new business. One of the main features of that Fieldlab is the ‘Open Airport Platform’. This platform should eliminate the barriers that education and the introduction of new technology experience from the generally closed digital infrastructure at airports. It should make it easier to test new technology and provide proof of concept of those technologies. This “open” approach is not seen before in the monolithic world of regional airport information systems.

The development for this open airport platform will mean a radical overhaul of the information system of the regional airport. But the airports can benefit substantially from the investment:

  • Tailor made solutions: In the future, airports can make their own specific additions to the information system or order it from a specialised company.
  • Do what you do best: The additions can be managed by the relevant experts. Quality and revenues do therefore no longer depend on the knowledge available at the supplier of the monolithic airport information system.
  • Liberalisation of the market: The supplier of the open airport platform concentrates on the build, security, maintenance and support of the open platform and opens it up for all relevant parties. So no longer a vendor lock-in.

These benefits mean higher security of the systems, short introduction periods of new solutions, overall cost reductions and at the same time a potential higher return on investment. But mostly it will mean adding value to the region, such as education and new business opportunities. And that in return gives the airport a right to exist.

In the upcoming blogs we will report more on the Airport Technology Lab. So stay tuned if you like to know more or just give us a call or drop an email.

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