Aeroporti Di Roma: A success story focused on people and innovation
29 July 2022
Emanuele Calà, Innovation & Quality Vice President of Aeroporti di Roma, tells International Airport Review how they are humanising the journey of passengers at Fiumicino Airport in a digital era.
In recent years, Aeroporti di Roma (ADR), the operator of Rome Airports, has been increasingly focused on the quality of services provided to passengers, through a strategy based on investments, innovation, and above all, people, which had allowed Fiumicino Airport to become one of the most appreciated airports in their world for the excellent level of its services.
The culmination of this process took place in April 2022, when Fiumicino Airport entered the ACI Director General’s Roll of Excellence, a recognition given by ACI for having won the Airport Service Quality Award for five years during the past 10 years, an extraordinary result that few European hub have achieved before.
Such recognition becomes even more valuable if we consider that, in 2013, Fiumicino Airport was at the very bottom of the ranking, according to ACI’s ASQ programme.
So, how was it possible to obtain these results in such a short time?
Although it is not easy to explain in a few lines the revolution that took place, the main drivers behind ADR’s success story can be summarised in five main pillars:
Over the years we have developed various channels of contact with our passengers – e.g., complaints, surveys, social media, web, instant feedback tools – giving importance to every single piece of feedback to identify the most important elements for passengers during their airport experience at the airport. We then focus on which to concentrate our excellence-oriented strategy and those requiring the activation of task forces to ensure the best level of service to passengers. The constant monitoring of our passengers’ experience, on the other hand, has also allowed us to proactively resolve any disruptions to minimise their effects on passengers’ views. As part of this activity, the ASQ survey played a central role that allowed us to frame the areas quickly and effectively for improvement and the effects of the actions implemented. For instance, we understood that wayfinding is regarded as one of the most important aspects of airport experience for Fiumicino’s passengers, and we have accordingly renewed the signage – identifying two colours, blue for the main indications (for example gate, check-in, etc) and yellow for services (nursery, toilet, F&B, etc), while implementing dynamic signage to highlight the most useful information in the most complicated passenger flow intersections.
Long term certainty of rules
The approval of ADR’s ERA (Economic Regulation Agreement) by the Civil Aviation Authority and the government in December 2012 made it possible to guarantee a coherent set of transparent and stable rules, valid until the end of the concession (June 2046) in favour of the long‑term development of an airport infrastructure so essential at national level as Fiumicino Airport. Thanks to ERA, in recent years Fiumicino has carried out various terminal refurbishment initiatives to adapt existing infrastructures to the new target service levels, while developing new infrastructures such as Pier E, opened in 2016, and the newly launched Pier A. From an operational point of view, these infrastructures allow for comfortable airport experiences, thanks to their commercial offers, the F&B services and several lounges.
The radical change that took place would have been unthinkable without a strong engagement of ADR’s people. Not only a massive customer-centric training plan was launched, involving all the people in the company from top management to new employees, but ‘quality circles’ were also launched – small groups of workers at different levels of the company who come together to discuss and solve problems in production, making it possible to improve the quality of airport processes by increasing the involvement of people. In 2014 ADR established the role of Terminal Managers and has internalised airport cleaning operations through the creation of a dedicated newco, Airport Cleaning, a fully owned subsidiary of ADR. To give a clear idea of the positive results obtained thanks to these initiatives, just look at how the “courtesy of airport staff ” ASQ indicator went from 3.43 to 4.55 and “the cleanliness of terminal” from 4.20 to 4.56.
Another key enabling factor has been the ability to innovate airport processes thanks to the use of new technologies and the introduction of new services that would enrich the passenger experience”
Another key enabling factor has been the ability to innovate airport processes thanks to the use of new technologies and the introduction of new services that would enrich the passenger experience. A clear example of this strategy is the implementation, starting from 2014, of automated border controls (ABC) which have made it possible to avoid long queues at passport controls over the years. Thanks to the investments made both in equipment and in signage and facilitation, today 50 per cent of passengers cross the border through the ABC. Other customer experience initiatives were developed at the airport, for specific targets such as in the boarding areas, playgrounds for families travelling with children have been built, as well as uniquely designed work areas for business travellers. Basic services such as ATMs, charging stations, smoking cabins were also the focus of the improvement process. Still in the field of wayfinding and information, we have completely renewed the graphics of the Flight Information Display System (FIDS), looking for the solution that would be clearer for passengers.
Collaboration with stakeholders
Wayfinding is regarded as one of the most important aspects of airport experience for Fiumicino’s passengers”
Throughout the whole process, the collaboration with all our stakeholders has been precious. Together with our partners and the main players of our sector, we keep setting new, ambitious goals and feel the shared responsibility to achieve them. Thanks to the introduction of the Quality Committee, in which all airport stakeholders participate, it has been possible to carry out various joint initiatives that have contributed to increase the level of services offered to passengers – even for the ones not directly managed by ADR (passport control, baggage delivery, commercial offer, etc)
Our approach has even intensified during the pandemic and we continued investing and did not stop the expansion works; Fiumicino maintained the leadership of Airport Council International (ACI) rankings, resulting in the most appreciated airport even in the last two years of distress.
As a further confirmation of how our constant work is being rewarding, as above mentioned, in May 2022 we inaugurated the new Pier A, dedicated to Schengen flights, where large windows let in natural light and innovative systems allow to characterise the gates boarding by associating evocative images of destinations jointly with flight information.