Aéroports de Paris gearing towards top-notch quality of service

Posted: 11 December 2009 | Pierre Graff, Chairman and CEO of Aéroports de Paris | No comments yet

On 14 March 1974, Aéroports de Paris welcomed its first passengers to Terminal 1 at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. This event marked the opening of the airport, which has since become the world’s 5th largest by passenger volume, and Europe’s most powerful hub.

On 14 March 1974, Aéroports de Paris welcomed its first passengers to Terminal 1 at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. This event marked the opening of the airport, which has since become the world’s 5th largest by passenger volume, and Europe’s most powerful hub.

Thirty-five years and over a billion passengers later, Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport has undergone a series of major transformations to keep pace with the growth in air traffic and accommodate both airline and passenger customers under optimal conditions. The airport now has three terminals and a large network of airport, road, rail and building infrastructures. It welcomes more than 60 million passengers a year, and some 460 airlines, including the three international alliances SkyTeam, Star Alliance and OneWorld. This spectacular development is founded on undeniable competitive advantages, but also on a proactive and ambitious strategy that combines quality of service with economic performance.

An unprecedented increase in capacity

Up until 2008, although Paris-CDG could already boast high quality infrastructures, the presence of world-leading companies – with Air France-KLM at the forefront – and substantial land reserves, its passenger terminals were at saturation point. Aéroports de Paris was quick to redress the situation: in two years, terminal capacity has been increased by about 20 million passengers. The backlog has now been resolved, and passenger-handling capacities are in line with traffic. For our airline and passenger customers alike, the extension and renovation work has brought about a real improvement in quality of service.

A quick flashback to take the full measure of the work accomplished: in March 2007, Aéroports de Paris opened the CDG VAL, an automatic shuttle train that connects Paris-Charles de Gaulle’s car parks and all three terminals in just eight minutes. Just a few weeks later came the inauguration of the Galerie Parisienne, the new boarding satellite at Terminal 2E, with an annual capacity of 8.6 million passengers. 750 metres long, 80 metres wide, and with 226,000 square metres of floor space, the new building also accommodates between 19 and 26 aircraft contact stands and is able to handle six Airbus A380s simultaneously. The Galerie Parisienne offers passengers almost 5,000 seats, 3,200 m2 of shops, and 1,400 m2 of bars and restaurants. The satellite is linked to Terminal 2E by an automatic train known as “LISA.”

In March 2008, it was the turn of the new Terminal 2E concourse to welcome its first passengers. Dedicated to medium and long-haul SkyTeam alliance flights, it can handle 14 wide-bodied aircraft in contact, enabling it to receive more than seven million passengers a year under optimal conditions. With its two boarding lounges and its TGV-RER station, Terminal 2E is now the vibrant heart of the Paris-Charles de Gaulle connection hub. Terminals 2E and 2F handle more than 1,000 flights a day, with a daily average of 90,000 passengers, more than half of whom are in transit.

Finally, in September 2008, Aéroports de Paris opened Terminal 2G, a new asset for regional business at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. The new terminal provides optimal operating conditions for 100 to 170-seater aircraft, serving domestic and European routes. It can handle up to three million passengers a year and 18 aircraft per hour.

This exceptional investment cycle culminates in 2012, when Terminal 2E’s new Satellite 4 comes into service. By that date, the total capacity of Paris-Charles de Gaulle could be in the order of 81 million passengers a year, compared to 47 million in 2004. Air France-KLM – the main user, along with its SkyTeam allies, of the new installations – will be able to concentrate most of its connections in Terminals 2C, 2E, and 2F. The Paris-Charles de Gaulle hub will see its centre of gravity shift eastwards, while it gains still further in efficiency.

Building new airport infrastructures would be pointless without an overarching vision, a guiding purpose: Aéroports de Paris is convinced that the airport company of today is, first and foremost, a service company.

Airline and passenger customers deserve irreproachable quality, to the highest European standards, with a complete range of constantly enriched services.

Progress in welcoming passengers

In parallel to these construction and renovation projects, Aéroports de Paris has taken significant steps to improve, on the one hand, the airport’s fluidity and ease of use, and on the other, the quality of service and customer-friendliness.

Since 2005, Aéroports de Paris has entirely revamped its signage and has changed 10,000 signposts, installed nearly 10,000 new seats in its terminals, replaced 22,000 luggage trolleys, created rest areas, laptop and mobile recharging stations, work areas with web-enabled computers, play areas for children, and terminals to pass the time with PlayStation® video games. Passenger information services have also been overhauled, with a single number for easy access to telephone information, a new web site, an online travel agency, new display panels for flight information, luggage delivery time indicators, tourist information and reception areas, a dedicated TV station, a free iPhone application (My Airport), and a free consumer magazine with a distribution of more than 300,000 copies.

Aéroports de Paris has also unveiled its “Parking Premium” service, offering reserved parking spaces near the terminal entrances, and the “Parking Vacances” service, which guarantees a special-rate parking space in Paris-Charles de Gaulle’s long-stay car park for passengers leaving their car for five days or more.

Another visible improvement much appreciated by passengers is the massive development of Aéroports de Paris’ shopping options, in quality as well as quantity. Whereas the initial objective was a 30% increase in the overall retail surface area by 2010 compared with 2004, 44% of it in the international area, Aéroports de Paris is now planning to reach 34% more sales area, with 70% in the international area. In 2007 and 2008, the retail surface grew by 7,500 m2 and 5,500 m2 respectively. Retail density in the international area is now over 500 m2 per million outbound passengers, compared with about 300 m2 in 2006 – which correlates with strong growth in sales per passenger.

New brands have appeared in every sector: gourmet foods (Ladurée, Maison du Chocolat…), fashion (Dior, Prada, Armani, Burberry, Ferragamo, Celine…), bars and restaurants (Starbucks, Bert’s, Exki, Noura, etc). The quality of the outlets has been hailed by the profession, with three retailers in the Galerie Parisienne being awarded the “Best New Store” prize in the Beauty, Wines & Spirits, and Tobacco categories by the trade magazine “Duty Free News International” on 15 December 2007.

Finally, passenger reception has been reinforced in response to strong demand from passengers and those accompanying them. By the end of 2009, Aéroports de Paris will have almost 500 airport customer care staff, some 200 more than in 2007.

All of these initiatives are reflected by encouraging results from customer satisfaction surveys: at the start of 2009, 80% of outbound passengers and 87% of inbound passengers declared they were satisfied with Paris airports. And Aéroports de Paris’ quality of service commitments under the economic regulation contract have been fulfilled comfortably (availability of aircraft parking stands, telescopic boarding bridges, electromechanical equipment, luggage delivery conveyors, and public information systems in the terminals, etc).

Aéroports de Paris listens to airlines

Airport operators have to be constantly attentive to the needs of their airline customers, in order to retain their loyalty and support them in their development, especially when the air transport sector is going through turbulent times. Aéroports de Paris has defined three levels of exchange with its airline customers: strategic consultation for their development in Paris, the definition of shared objectives, and the optimisation of operating processes.

A number of concrete actions have been undertaken, for which the feedback has been very encouraging: the creation of an Airport Orientation Committee, a forum for dialogue at a strategic level, bringing together bodies representing the airlines (FNAM, BAR, SCARA, IATA, AOC, ELFAA); more frequent consultation meetings with airlines and representative bodies as part of the Economic Consultative Committee (Cocoeco), notably on investment and quality of service issues, and more upstream discussions about pricing strategies; and the launch of a new annual survey to measure the satisfaction level of the airlines that fly from our airports.

Aéroports de Paris has also set out to formalise its commitments in a cooperative mode. A protocol agreement was signed with Air France in 2007 to launch the cooperation initiative “Succeeding Together.” Two other protocol agreements were signed with the two major alliances present at Paris after SkyTeam: an SLA (Service Level Agreement) with Star Alliance in 2005 and a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with One World in 2006. Aéroports de Paris has also developed Terminal 2B jointly with EasyJet in order to better satisfy the low cost airline’s requirements.

There can be little doubt that the progress achieved in every domain (infrastructures, services, governance) over recent years has left Aéroports de Paris better equipped to withstand the crisis than its competitors. Paris’s airports continue to capture market share in Europe (up one point since 2007). In the first half of 2009, the Group’s results are up year-on-year despite a decline in traffic: revenues have risen by 5.9% to €1,285.9 million, EBITDA has maintained its upward trend (+4.5% to €423.6 million) and the Group’s share of net earnings is up 1.3% to €127.3 million.

New challenges to be met

Much remains to be done to consolidate the strengths of Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and become Europe’s benchmark airport group. After focusing our efforts on capacity investments over the period 2006-2010, Aéroports de Paris’ projected investment programme for 2009-2013 will be concentrating on quality of service. Infrastructure improvement and restructuring operations are planned, such as completing the refurbishment of Terminal 1, refurbishing Terminal 2B, and merging Terminals 2A and 2C to create a central space with additional facilities, stores and unified control functions. All of these proposals will be discussed with the regulator within the framework of the 2011-2015 economic regulation contract.

Aéroports de Paris also intends to improve the passenger experience, and the services rendered to airlines, in four priority areas: facilitating transit passenger paths (information, retail presence, orientation, comfort in the terminal), improving passenger satisfaction with bars and restaurants, aligning our subcontractors’ performance with our quality of service targets (safety and security inspections, cleaning), and better integration of airlines’ expectations through joint target management.

Paradoxically, the quality of service challenges facing Aéroports de Paris are every bit as demanding as the capacity issues we faced in the terminals. Guaranteeing certain levels of service to all customers, and applying them evenly across numerous and widespread facilities, is a difficult goal to achieve, especially when it means mobilising all of the other players in the air transport chain (public services, taxis, rail operators, etc). Without doubt, Aéroports de Paris’ employees are up to the task ahead. There is no alternative: the “battle” of the air hubs will be won on the ground.

Related organisations

Related regions

Related people

Send this to a friend