Edinburgh Airport CEO, Gordon Dewar, has revealed that he intends to “maximise the potential" of his airport's existing assets before building any new facilities.
Dewar, speaking at this week’s Global Airport Development (GAD) conference in Paris, said that improving operational efficiency, raising customer service standards and the introduction of new capacity enhancing technology would all come first for Edinburgh Airport ahead of the opening of new “just in time” infrastructure.
New management and work techniques to improve the airport’s culture, efficiency and “the way it works with its customers” would prove key for Edinburgh, according to Dewar.
“Improving the customer experience does lead to shareholder value,” Dewar told delgates.
“They are not mutually exclusive, you can have both, so let’s make sure we do all we can with what we’ve got to avoid building big empty palaces that echo with the dribble of passengers sauntering through concrete cavernous halls.
“As we improve our services to become more efficient – and that means bursting queues and investing less money by doing things better – it will, of course, improve our costs and we can pass these savings onto the airlines and help make the airport more competitive.”
Dewar cited a determination to improve the throughput levels at the airport’s 12 security lanes by nearly 20% by next summer – reducing unpopular queues and potentially saving up to £600,000 (€750,000) in the process – as an example of how GIP aims to enhance efficiency at Edinburgh Airport without adding new facilities.
“Our 12 security lanes currently handle a consistent 220 passengers per hour, we are aiming to raise that to 260 per hour by next summer – that’s an extra 40 passengers per lane per hour.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it amounts to a 17% increase in efficiency, which is the equivalent of using 14 lanes, which would have cost an extra £600,000 to set up and equip.
The installation of new common use technology in the check-in hall is another efficiency enhancing initiative planned by GIP, according to Dewar, who notes that former owner BAA’s solution to the problem would have been to invest €3.7 million on the installation of five new check-in desks.
New era for Edinburgh
Dewar believes that Edinburgh has become a “different airport” since GIP paid BAA close to €1 billion for it earlier this year.
“The change of ownership on June 1 this year was a huge step for aviation in Scotland. Edinburgh is now a standalone Scottish business instead of a satellite of a larger group where group decisions were made in London or even further afield in Madrid,” said Dewar.
“We’re governed by a Board that sits in Edinburgh, and makes decisions for Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. As a result, we are nimble and agile when it comes to decision-making and increasing efficiency.”
He said the ‘tempo’ of Edinburgh Airport was ‘up’ since the GIP takeover.
“The rhythm has changed and things are moving at true pace, and it’s a tempo that’s bringing everyone along with it,” noted Dewar.
“Our team have never been more engaged, and we’re already seeing a lot of good work being done, in particular in the check-in hall, at security and the immigration hall.”
A total of 9.4 million passengers used the Scottish gateway in 2011 cementing its place as the UK’s sixth busiest airport.
"Our focus is on customer service and improving airline efficiency in the long-term to make sure we are competitive, and can sustain growth moving forward," said Dewar.