Indeed, it has been said in the past that aviation facilitates trade.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is the most ambitious infrastructure project in modern history.
Covering over 60 countries and 60% of the world’s population, it seeks to transform trade by enhancing the connectedness and integration of different nationalities through mega projects that will create road, rail and waterways transportation facilities.
The benefits of these mega projects have been mentioned across leading media outlets across the world.
As an airport hospitality business leader, specifically focusing on the wellbeing of passengers during their travels, I am curious as to how our industry stands to gain from the billions of dollars worth of initiatives in over 60 countries.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will create new traffic flows within China and the rest of the world as a result more of the world will be exposed to China’s hospitality.
BRI presents the aviation world with not just growth opportunities but also a chance to up the ante in the one part of the world where customer service has more opportunities to improve.
Specifically, Chinese carriers have been increasing their capacity. Between 2010 and 2017, Chinese carriers long-haul seat capacity grew by 233%.
Over 549 Chinese passengers flew in 2017 compared to 184 million in 2007.
The Mckinsey Global Institute forecasts a threefold growth in passenger numbers over the next ten years.
In fact, China’s current five-year plan shows over 70 new airports under for construction, the biggest of which, Daxing International Airport in Beijing, is expected to open late 2019.
It will be the world’s largest airport by far, with eight runways and room for over 100 million passengers a year.
It is clear that the China growth spurt in aviation is just getting started and that the new gateway will play a major support role in the Belt Road Initiative roll out.
BRI has been designed to promote efficiency and profitability by creating and facilitating networks and ways that allow for trade and economic development. It is crucial that this efficiency is also reflected in airports across China.
But it’s not just about infrastructure. Investment in the labour market is essential to ensure that China has the talent to provide excellent passenger services.
Airports and airlines in China will want to partner with key global hospitality organisations to enhance the passenger travel experiences.
Over the past 20 years, the Plaza Premium Group has worked closely with international airports and airlines, to provide value to their passengers. The over 14 million customers that we serve today come to us because we sell them value of an enhanced travel experience.
Recently we opened our first Aerotel in Guangzhou Airport, our first airport transit hotel in China.
In addition to managing lounges for partner airlines in Shanghai and Beijing, we have signed business agreements with four airports for investment in lounges, transit hotels and common areas.
It is also worth noting that Plaza Premium Group has presence in more than half of the 60 countries that have Belt Road Initiative projects.
While the hospitality industry in China has greatly improved, we still witness areas where there are opportunities to provide better quality service.
That is why I believe that more airports in China will seek to work with global hospitality organisations such as ours to provide more value, comfort and create seamless airport experiences for travellers.
• Song Hoi-See is founder and CEO of the Plaza Premium Group