A recent report by AeroCloud, an intelligent airport management platform that enhances collaboration and operational efficiencies, has found that despite passenger demand rising to near pre-pandemic levels, 52% of airport leaders are still concerned about their financial stability. The report also highlights that 37% of airport leaders are still in debt.
The report, titled “Getting on the Runway to Growth”, is based on a survey of 200 airport leaders and reveals that 48% of airports have not yet seen their revenues recover since the pandemic slowdown. The report also highlights that airport leaders are focused on growth, with 92% of them prioritizing increasing growth margins and optimizing and increasing capacity for take-off and landing slots.
However, the report also identifies several challenges that airports face in achieving this growth, including:
- Sluggish passenger growth and spending: 62% of airport leaders worry that passenger numbers won’t recover to pre-Covid levels, with 70% predicting the cost-of-living crisis will impact spending with concession partners.
- Staffing issues: 62% of airports view not being able to hire enough staff to meet rising flight and passenger volumes as a risk to operations over the next 12 months.
- Disruption and flight cancellations: 69% of airport leaders fear the impact of disruptive events outside of their control, whether delayed flights, air traffic faults or extreme weather. 74% called out flight cancellations as particularly negatively affecting their reputation with passengers1.
George Richardson, CEO and co-founder, AeroCloud, said: “The overall outlook for the aviation industry is strong after what has been a difficult few years. But not all airports are benefiting from this bounce back yet. Many are still struggling with the impact of staffing issues and flight disruption on their operations, as well as their ability to boost their revenue. While every airport has its unique challenges and opportunities, our research found airport leaders have common strategies in how they plan to boost their growth in the year ahead.”
AeroCloud found that airport leaders identified several areas where they see opportunities to boost their growth. 52% of airports are still unable to restore all routes served before the pandemic. As a result, it’s not surprising that 92% of airports hope to increase the number of flights travelling through their airports by attracting new airlines, while 93% plan to optimize take-off and landing slots to increase capacity. To achieve this, airports plan to improve gate management to create space for new entrants, offer airlines access to airport operational data for improved visibility, and lower the upfront investment with common-use facilities, such as shared check-in desks, and ongoing costs for airlines.
Airports recognize the importance of being ranked as a top airport for passenger experience to increase passenger footfall. To improve the passenger experience, they want to reduce security wait times, offer a seamless journey through the airport, and provide more self-service tools for check-in counters and bag drop.
In addition, 86% of airports want to increase spending in concessions and Duty Free. They plan to encourage this by making the airport a shopping destination for more pre-planned purchases, offering a good range of retail outlets, and speeding up the time it takes for passengers to get through check-in and security so they can spend more time in concessionary areas.
Finally, upgrading legacy technologies and systems is a commercial priority for 92% of airport leaders. This will enable them to improve the efficiency of their operations and better manage disruptive events. In fact, 60% of airport leaders identified not investing in new technologies that will optimize airport operations – such as SaaS platforms, automation, and AI – as a key risk over the coming 12 months.
George Richardson continued, “Many airports are still relying on legacy systems and technologies. This hugely reduces their efficiency in managing existing assets which impacts their capacity to introduce new airlines, as well as optimise passenger experience by giving them more time in the concessionary areas.
“In fact, 40% of airport leaders told us they are still using Excel and Word documents to store and manage operational information, such as for gate management and the RONs (Remain Overnights). The reliance on manual processes and legacy systems presents massive hurdles to their revenue growth. Airports must look to the future to secure the next stage of their growth by embracing the benefits of artificial intelligence, computer vision and the cloud.”