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Airport ancillaries


exercise for Android devices, it comes in two modes, inviting gamers to build a modern airport and then a city to support it, both with the aid of a tutorial. Along the way to sending hundreds of flights into the sky, players have to tackle the construction of the airport infrastructure, a challenge that should give a cyberspace insight into the logistical problems airports face in the real world. In essence, an airport is a already a mini


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city, providing and integrating all the facilities necessary to ensure its smooth operation, including banks, bars and restaurants, hotels, shops, post offices, medical facilities chapels and prayer rooms. But airports play a dual role, mirroring


cities as significant job creators. London Heathrow, for example, is staffed by over 75,000 people and supports a further 100,000 jobs in the London area. Overall, the aviation industry employs


234,000 people in the UK, with airport operators and their supply chains contributing some £18billion a year in gross value to the UK economy. While airports might be self-contained entities, they would be unable to perform their functions as employers, wealth generators and passenger conduits without the dozens of ancillary services that feed passengers into their terminals and try to make the often frustrating airport experience more bearable, even enjoyable. Getting to the airport is the traveller’s


ne of the more surprising successes among computer games fans recently has been Airport City. A simulation


major consideration, a balancing act setting time against cost and convenience. Here, Heathrow indicates the general preferences countrywide. Private car is the favourite means of transport to the UK’s premier gateway with 30 per cent of departing passengers, followed by rail at 27 per cent, taxi at 25 per cent, with just 12 per cent opting for scheduled bus or coach. For those choosing to drive their own car, parking options are provided by a number of companies. But Purpleparking, one of the largest off-airport parking organisations in the UK, claims to be unique in that it is the only company of its type in the country with a department specialising in the business travel market. Its service is available at over 20 UK airports, including Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Luton, Southampton and Heathrow. As a short, mid, and long-term parking facility at the latter, with two car parks, it has the capacity to store 20,000 vehicles at any one time. In addition, Purpleparking also offers a meet-and-greet service. The company works with a large number


of travel management companies and their clients, who include American Express, British Airways, Glaxo SmithKline, Hewlett Packard, Siemens and Vodafone. For travellers opting to leave their vehicles


in the airports’ long-term car parks, waiting in often inclement weather for a shuttle bus to the terminal, lugging suitcases aboard and finding a machine to pay the fee on return is a hassle. Which is where a number of companies score by concentrating on meet-and-greet services.


StressFreeAirportParking.com is the biggest provider of the concept at UK airports, with its own facilities at Birmingham, East Midlands, Glasgow, Heathrow, Luton and Southampton, plus on-airport sales points elsewhere. The principle is simple: private car drivers


are welcomed by uniformed members of staff immediately outside the terminal, who then park the vehicle in a secure parking bay, returning it to the forecourt when the customer arrives home. Says Martin Mansell, managing director


of StressFree: “We are endeavouring to change the face of airport parking into a service that becomes a relaxed, planned element of your trip, rather than being a last-minute expense and inconvenience. “At the forefront of our thinking is the


necessity of placing good, old-fashioned service at the centre of what we achieve – we want to bring trust into a sector that has been, for some, a mistrusted service. We believe it’s starting to happen for us as a brand, but we need to replicate that change in public perception for the meet-and-greet sector as a whole,” says Mansell. Business travellers can expect similar handover and delivery procedures and philosophy from Meteor meet and greet, which offers parking services at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and Birmingham airports. All its uniformed drivers undergo an


assessment with an advanced driving instructor, it has secure storage facilities, and its reputation for speedy service has received a prestigious seal of approval: Meteor holds the Guinness World Record





THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE 69


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