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Monitoring movement in Milan

Posted: 4 April 2013 | Giorgio Medici, Customer Care Officer, SEA, Milan Airports' Managing Company | No comments yet

Finding the answer to the ‘what makes an airport great’ question is no trivial matter. Giorgio Medici, Customer Care Officer at SEA, Milan Airports’ Managing Company, believes it lies in creating the perfect passenger experience.

Science fiction novelist, Douglas Adams once wrote: “Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only exception of this otherwise infallible rule) and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs1.”

Finding the answer to the ‘what makes an airport great’ question is no trivial matter. Giorgio Medici, Customer Care Officer at SEA, Milan Airports’ Managing Company, believes it lies in creating the perfect passenger experience.Science fiction novelist, Douglas Adams once wrote: “Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only exception of this otherwise infallible rule) and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs1.”

Finding the answer to the ‘what makes an airport great’ question is no trivial matter. Giorgio Medici, Customer Care Officer at SEA, Milan Airports’ Managing Company, believes it lies in creating the perfect passenger experience.

Science fiction novelist, Douglas Adams once wrote: “Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only exception of this otherwise infallible rule) and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs1.”

Airports can be perceived as an annoying necessity for passengers, who often see them as just a location to get on and off an aircraft. For airlines, airports are a nuisance which prevents them from keeping their aircraft up in the skies – ground time is perceived as unproductive. Indeed, today’s airports are put under huge amounts of pressure to provide efficient services as well as a continuously improved and increasingly ‘pleasant’ passenger experience. Today’s passengers have more transportation choice than ever before and the battle is well and truly on: airports vs. airports and airports vs. high-speed trains.

There are tangible signs that European airports and regulatory bodies are making efforts to raise the bar for passenger services; with countries increasingly adopting Service Level Agreements, awarding prizes and acknowledgements to airport management companies and rewarding them for consistently high levels of service.

Milan Malpensa Airport has a rich history in customer satisfaction analysis, which confirms that the airport’s services are ‘acceptable’. But ‘acceptable’ customer service is no longer sufficient. The key performance indicators at Milan’s airports, which include flight punctuality and baggage delivery, actually place Malpensa Airport amongst the best performing European airports. This has encouraged the airport to invest further in customer satisfaction tools. Waiting time at check-in, security screening and passport control are all under strict supervision and we strive to cut these times down to a minimum. Long and unpredictable queuing times translate into a worrying and stressful passenger experience, which is unacceptable.

The Airport Passenger Service Charter, enforced by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority 14 years ago, has guided many Italian airports, including Milan Malpensa, towards achieving the service that passengers expect when they use an airport. Meeting these expectations, in turn, helps to increase airport revenue. Any commercial director will tell you that they are much happier when good passenger flow, which includes time management, leaves passengers with sufficient time to browse the retail areas before boarding.

We are constantly learning from other European and global experiences, and have recently invested in an integrated queue data collection system which is capable of reading all possible data streams within the airport (Figure 1). By integrating this data with information managed by our new 2D bar code boarding pass reader at the security check, which easily verifies the validity of boarding documents, Milan Malpensa is developing a number of solutions to address issues with passenger flow, without disrupting the passengers themselves.

 

Figure 1: The airport is capable of reading many different data streams within the airport through one program

Figure 1: The airport is capable of reading many different
data streams within the airport through one program

This automated process, which processes data throughout the day, generates reliable information on the exact timing of point-to-point routes. Flight information display systems are fed information including time-to-gate data, while self-service information points provide both time-to-gate and flight status information.

This precious data is of huge value during daily operational decision-making situations, such as missing passengers at the gate. For example, if the residual time to flight closure is tight and the system tells us that the passenger has not yet passed security control, an airline may decide to close the flight without attempting a last call, under the reasonable presumption that the missing passenger was not sufficiently punctual to board the flight on time. If, on the other hand, there is sufficient waiting time, other actions (last calls) could be adopted to trace the passenger. Precise queuing time data collected will support these decisions.

From a commercial perspective, such information is also valuable in establishing the length of time passengers can spend in retail areas – this has proved to be particularly useful when creating retail packages, planning commercial offers and shaping company policy to shorten security queuing time.

The modern airport is, in no way, representative of Douglas Adams’ “ugly airport” perception, and by providing efficient processes combined with reliable time-to-gate information, passengers feel safe, comfortable and relaxed inside our terminals. Acknowledgement The author would like to thank Jacqueline Gaio at Milan Malpensa Airport for her contribution towards writing this article.

 

Acknowledgement

The author would like to thank Jacqueline Gaio at Milan Malpensa Airport for her contribution towards writing this article.

Reference

1. The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul, Douglas Adams, 1988

Biography

Giorgio Medici began his career in the automotive industry in 1988, developing computer integrated manufacturing solutions for FIAT. He entered the airport industry in 1992, working for SEA Informatica Engineering as a Project Manager responsible for airport systems at the Milan Malpensa Airport project. In 1998, Giorgio became responsible for airport operations at SEA Milan Airports. In 2002, he became Air-side Services Manager for the newly formed SEA Handling Company, then two years later worked on regulation projects for SEA to specifically supervise the de-regulation process in the handling market at Milan. From 2007 to the end of 2008 Giorgio was responsible for commercial and management issues for SEA’s handling sector, including the recovery of the handling company after Alitalia ‘de-hubbed’ from Malpensa. Since then, Giorgio has been Customer Care Officer for SEA Milan Airports, focusing on building knowledge about airport customers and providing dedicated contact services to enhance the customer relation management system for the company.

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