Creating airports of tomorrow in a changing aviation landscape

Colleagues Rogier Doffegnies, Alex Jansen and Gé Smit from 2ndSense AirportCreators delve deeper into the changing world of airport development.


In today’s complex business environment, many projects at airports run off course. The traditional design-driven approach is failing in the increasingly complicated stakeholder field and business environment and consequently several airport companies are now successfully shifting to a new approach on airport development. Decisive elements of this new approach include focusing on actual needs, preparing for changes, developing airports as holistic systems, creating a ‘top-down’ strategic fit of projects, engaging stakeholders, and aligning expertise. These success factors underpin the principles of a project management approach called ‘Systems Engineering’.

Ever wondered why projects at airports run off course time and again? We have researched airport development projects of various kinds and scales and discovered that in many cases it is the fundamental issues that result in budget overruns, delays, quality issues, and lack of stakeholder acceptance. These issues include harmful and structural project routines such as jumping to solutions while neglecting intrinsic needs, overlooking the strategic fit of projects, misaligning expertise, creating a disconnection with stakeholders, and mismanaging the scope of the project and changes that occur. These routines have become increasingly problematic in our radically changing business environment, yet most airport companies continue to use old strategies of airport development. However, a small number of airports have successfully shifted their approach. These companies have built their success on the following six key principles:

1. Focusing on intrinsic needs

2. Preparing for changes

3. Developing airports as holistic systems

4. Creating a ‘top-down’ strategic fit for projects

5. Engaging stakeholders

6. Aligning expertise by means of early market involvement.

So, what can we learn from those airports?

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