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Their role as gateways to a nation means that world-class design is also of the utmost importance. Jordan’s new Queen Alia Airport designed by Foster + Partners, where WSP Genivar is engineering technical adviser to the client, is a beautiful and distinctively Arabic structure, intended to be “the jewel in the crown” of the kingdom. “Airports have always been gateways, whether to a city, a country or a region, but the approach in the Middle East is taking that into new territory,” says Power- Hosking. “We’re seeing huge, state-of-the-art airports popping up in new parts of the world, while older airports are battling to create that kind of experience with many more constraints.”

passenger numbers have risen by 20%, adds Alan Lamond, vice chairman of the British Aviation Group and director of the international aviation team at architect Pascall + Watson. “Places such as Dubai, Beijing and Jakarta have experienced growth rates into multiple triple digits over a 10-year period – they’re storming ahead.”


To serve all these new passengers, there has been major investment in airport infrastructure. But the latest facilities look little like their predecessors, as airport design evolves to meet the changing demands of a very dynamic industry. There is a new breed of mega airport that functions not only as a stunning gateway to its home country, but as a transfer hub for passengers from all over the world. These are much larger than older airports – Dubai’s Terminal 3 is the largest building in the world, with a floor area of 1.7 million m2

– and are

setting higher and higher targets on operational efficiency and passenger experience.


For WSP Genivar’s global aviation team, this means that projects in different parts of the world may present very different challenges. “In the Middle East and the emerging markets of Asia, it’s about growth and building new facilities,” says vice president of aviation Bernhard Schropp, who has specialised in airport development for more than 20 years. “In the west, where some airports are 50 or 60 years old, it’s about maintaining and optimising infrastructure for the future. In cities where there’s a finite amount of land, we’re optimising for capacity rather than building a completely new airport – making sure planes can land and take off as efficiently and safely as possible.”


WSP Genivar is helping airport operators and government bodies across Europe and North America to overcome these constraints and upgrade facilities – not only by providing technical solutions but by demonstrating an airport’s value to the local economy. “It’s no longer a case of ‘build it and they will come’,” says Schropp. “It doesn’t matter how great the ideas are or how well they work technically, the

first questions are always how much it’s going to cost, and who’s going to pay for it.”

Schropp’s team have been coming up with some interesting answers to those questions. At Chatham-Kent airport in Canada, for example, they worked with the municipality to strike a deal with a power company that wanted to erect wind turbines next to the airport. In exchange for “no objection” to the project, the wind turbine developer paid for C$2.5m worth of airport safety and usability improvements. “That’s a very interesting model that other airports are now starting to consider, because it’s win-win,” says Schropp.

Meanwhile, at the Iqaluit International Airport in the Canadian Arctic, a new terminal building will double as a community gathering space, with a stage for presentations and ceremonies. “All infrastructure in the extreme north is very expensive to maintain so it’s important to maximise use of the space,” he explains. “This will be a significant structure for the community, but there’s a very limited time when it will be in peak operation. It’s a unique situation, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be done elsewhere – at many of the regional airports we’re involved with, the terminal building can be underused for extended periods each day.”

Retail and hospitality space has become a key differentiator for airports and an important source of income, while operators are also seeking constant operational

improvements in security screening and baggage handling, to enable them to process people and luggage as efficiently as possible. This not only contributes to a pleasant and uneventful journey, but also enables airlines to minimise turnaround times and maximise profits.

This is one factor driving bigger and bigger airports, says Lamond. “For both airports and airlines, there are fantastic operational benefits in getting bigger – there are economies of scale in almost every process. Scale gives you the opportunity to move passengers from one place to another under one roof, making connections as efficient as possible.”

Older airports may struggle to compete with the mega terminals of the east on scale and glitz, but they’re certainly not about to fall behind on customer experience or quality of service. This is now a major focus for all operators, as competition intensifies for both carriers and passengers. “It’s about how you can make the connections between different parts of the world a lot easier, and offer an experience that is second to none,” says Power-Hosking. “That connection isn’t just about an aeroplane taking off and landing.”

Places such as

Dubai, Beijing and Jakarta have experienced growth

rates into multiple triple digits over a 10-year period –

they’re storming ahead Alan Lamond,

Pascall + Watson SOLUTIONS 03

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