Winning hearts and minds
Airport World editor, Joe Bates, considers the importance of good community relations.
There is an old expression that you get out of life what you put into it, and while that is not always true, of course, I feel it is particularly appropriate to airports when it comes to community relations.
I say this because as you will discover later in this ‘community relations’ themed issue, it appears as if there are almost incalculable benefits for those that go the extra mile to openly communicate with, embrace and work with the local community.
In terms of communication, simply “talking to the neighbours” on a regular basis via email, newsletter, through newspaper articles or social media such as Twitter and Facebook can win hearts and minds of residents.
Reminding people of the positives that an airport has on their communities, never does any harm, of course, but in today’s world of 24-hour communications, there is almost no excuse for airports not to open a dialogue with their neighbours about anything and everything!
It is remarkable, for example, how effective a simple communiqué can be in terms of reassuring residents over the potential impact to them of airport expansion projects.
But good communications should also be about helping airports promote the positives, and there are certainly many when it comes to community relations.
In terms of embracing and working with communities, one of the things local residents invariably want is for airports to be responsible and proactive in terms of green initiatives designed to reduce aviation’s impact on their neighbourhoods. And in 2014, an increasing number of gateways across the globe are obliging.
Environmental schemes nowadays typically incorporate noise mitigation projects and a commitment to reduce carbon emissions, but they also include pioneering projects such as collecting and recycling rainwater, the increased use of renewable energy and creating wetlands, parks and forests.
And, as you can read in this issue, a growing number of airports are also opening Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or BREEAM certified buildings, as sustainable development – often referred to as an airport’s “licence to grow” – becomes even more of a top priority.
Many have done these things and more at the same time as showing a ‘human’ side through schemes designed to build on and strengthen their relationship with surrounding communities.
Community schemes cover everything from supporting local schools and charities to sponsoring sports teams and organising events such ‘fun runs’, open days, plane-pulls, fashion shows and pop concerts.
It might sound slightly cynical, but in today’s tough business environment, airports need all the help they can get – and getting surrounding communities on their side is vital to ensure their long-term growth.
Indeed, the days of sitting back and leaving everything to chance are gone forever. Airports need to be proactive in their communities and win friends and influence people or, ultimately risk being denied the chance to grow by politicians with a different agenda.
Joe Bates and Justin Burns look back at the 2014 Airport Economics & Finance Conference in London.
View from the top
ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, looks ahead to the ACI Asia-Pacific/World Annual General Assembly in Seoul, Korea.
Vinci Airports CEO, Nicolas Notebaert, talks to Joe Bates about Portugal’s airport system and the group’s expanding airport portfolio.
On the right track
Alexander Hannaford discovers more about the infrastructure and customer service development plans of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
ACI’s environmental senior manager, Xavier Oh, reflects on the need for communications and community engagement as the link between sustainability efforts and permission to grow.
They may not quite be super heroes, but airport mascots are growing in number and popularity as gateways look at increasingly innovative ways of communicating with the public, writes Robin Stone.
Being a good neighbour
Airports across the globe are embracing new ways of connecting with the communities around them, writes Chris Beanland.
The art of communication
SimpliFlying CEO, Shashank Nigam, reflects on how social media, online engagement and other initiatives are helping airports communicate with local communities.
Sustainability + transparency = expediency
Community engagement and sustainability are vital ingredients for any airport development project, writes Parsons Brinckerhoff’s aviation design manager, Jane Ahrens.
Spotlight on Brazil
Brazil’s government is looking to private investors to breathe new life into hundreds of the nation’s smaller, regional airports, write Johann Frank and Marie Krpata.
Our new feature on human resources/leadership.
LEO A DALY’s JP Grom discusses planning for and implementing technology at exit lanes at US airports.
Brad McAllister considers how airports can solve business issues and satisfy key stakeholder needs by leveraging contemporary technology to do more with less.
Airport Marketing Exchange
In this age of increased connectivity and mobility, how exactly can airports tap into the connected travellers market?
Dine and fly
Sarah McCay takes a closer look at innovations in airport dining as new celebrity chefs take up the challenge of operating airside outlets.
ACI’s World Business Partners
The last word
Justin Burns talks to Claus and Gunnar Heinemann, the owners and great-grandchildren of the founders of Hamburg based duty free giant, Gebr Heinemann.