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In the spotlight: Marketing & Communications

Airport report: Helsinki

In review: Airport Economics & Finance Conference and ACI Asia-Pacific/World Annual General Assembly

Plus: ASQ winners & Investing in Africa

Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the importance of good public relations in this ‘marketing and communications’ themed issue.

Good impressions

 Despite writing about aviation for the best part of 30 years and believing that I have a pretty healthy knowledge of the industry, I do still wonder whether airports both individually and collectively are doing enough to tell the world about all the good things they are doing.

Sure, things have improved massively over the years in terms of when, how, and how often airports speak to the outside world, convey messages and relay information to the public, with social media channels increasingly coming to the fore in recent times.

As ‘industry insiders’, many of us are fully aware of numerous different initiatives to raise the bar on everything from operational efficiency and customer service to safety, security and sustainability.

Much of our knowledge comes from the efforts of ACI World and each ACI region – ACI Africa, ACI Asia-Pacific, ACI Europe, ACI North America and ACI Latin America-Caribbean – which between them do an excellent job of promoting airport excellence and best practices.

The efforts of ACI and other industry bodies such as ICAO, AAAE and even IATA are, of course, supplemented by the individual marketing and communications initiatives of individual airports.

So, the word is getting out there, but could more be done to win the hearts and minds of local communities, cities and regions which, ultimately, will decide an airport’s licence to grow?

Without doubt, high-profile infrastructure investment projects such as Istanbul’s new airport; multi-billion dollar upgrades at LAX and New York-LaGuardia in the US; and the ever-closer opening of Beijing Daxing International Airport have, and continue to grab, newspaper headlines and TV coverage across the globe.

But what about all the other hugely positive things that airports and the airport community are doing globally?

ACI’s pioneering Airport Carbon Accreditation programme has been an incredible success, for example, and is helping make people – and perhaps most importantly politicians, governments and policymakers – more aware of what airports are doing in terms of their sustainable development.

But, if I was to walk outside my house now and knock on my neighbours’ doors and ask them what they know about the environmental initiatives of our local airport, I bet you they wouldn’t have a clue, and, sadly, that probably applies to 95% of the world’s airports.

So, do airports need to do even more to tell the world about their environmental initiatives to ensure their licence to grow?

And with industry leaders like Airport Authority Hong Kong’s CEO, Fred Lam, admitting that his airport is struggling to recruit new staff, do airports need to up their game to make themselves more appealing to the younger generation and attract their leaders of tomorrow?

Both issues are addressed in the ‘marketing and communications’ themed section of this issue by the Air Transport Action Group’s Michael Gill, and ADK Consulting & Executive Search’s Doug Kuelpman, respectively.

The themed section also contains articles about airport brands; the award-winning marketing efforts of Hollywood Burbank Airport; and we salute the 2018 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer experience award winners.

Elsewhere in the magazine, and as you would expect from our post Airport Economics & Finance Conference and Exhibition (London) and ACI Asia-Pacific/World Annual General Assembly, Conference & Exhibition (Hong Kong) edition, this issue also contains comprehensive reviews of both events.

Our main airport feature is on Helsinki where new director, Joni Sundelin, tells us more about his gateway’s ambitious development plans, route development success and enhancing its status as northern Europe’s transfer hub to Asia. Enjoy!

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