Case Study: Qantas Airways



Customer comments:

”The whole airport service thing is now very slick with SMS check-in and automated bag drop. Really happy with where this is now.”

“No queues. Used mobile check-in and bag drop. No queues at security. Seamless. In lounge within 5 minutes of returning rental car.”

“Automated bag drop is a breeze.”

“Checked in online and auto bag drop with Q-tag and scanner was really easy to use.

“Love the self check-in and bag drop. Not waiting in queues is the best.”


Airports: Into the future

ICM Airport Technics sat down with Robert Bowring, QANTAS Head of Commercial Airports Infrastructure & Services to find out what the future has in store for airports, passengers and the industry at large.

Q. What are the five major trends you see shaping airports over the next five to 10 years? 

I see five clear areas that will evolve significantly in the medium term.

  1. Reduced terminal footprints: Increasingly, airports are optimising and improving existing space before making major investment in expanding their existing terminal footprint. This will be lead primarily by the next trend:
  2. Technology will drive improvements:  New technologies will continue to transform how airports use space, and the experiences customers have passing through them.  From auto-check-in to auto bag drop, from biometrics scanners and driverless vehicles, airport infrastructure managers have a vast and ever increasing range of tools at their disposal. Technology has the potential to create a queue-less airport experience.
  3. The death of the baggage carousel: The arrival experience remains unpleasant for passengers as they step off a plane and into a stuffy baggage collection area. This arrivals process will improve as technology presents more convenient and comfortable ways to deliver people their bags once they have disembarked from their flight and provide information on the status of the baggage process.  This may include bags on demand and more options for customers’ bags to be delivered to their home or another place of convenience.
  4. Airports will no longer be architectural monuments: The days of airports needing to be seen as the next Taj Mahal are mostly gone.  Airports are prioritising functionality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. This will be a positive move for customers, as spaces will be specifically designed around their needs.
  5. More innovative transportation to and from airports: The customer journey will no longer start at the curbside outside the airport terminal. The changing nature of group transportation, which is being disrupted by startups like Uber and Lyft, and projects such as Google’s driverless cars, will present new ways to bring customers into the airport, while providing a number of convenient locations to drop off their bags.

Q. What are the major challenges for the teams turning these future opportunities into a reality?

The most important factor is ensuring airlines and airport management teams are on the same page.  These parties can have differing priorities and responsibilities which can make transformational innovation challenging.

Both sides need to be working together to really unlock the value of innovation, and apply some of the amazing new technologies at their disposal. Airports need to reward airlines for embracing new technology, rather than penalising them for aiming to revolutionise traditional practice.

In the coming years, as both sides realise the benefits of working together, we will see a stronger and closer partnership being formed. After all, customers will drive the demand for better services and a better experience- and if they don’t get it they will vote with their feet.

Q. What advice would you give to someone working at an airline or airport wanting to embark on an innovation program to improve the customer experience?

The creative and innovative solutions offered by new technology such as the auto bag drop speak for themselves. I’d urge both airports and airlines to align their priorities and take a medium to long-term, holistic view approach, rather than a short term approach that overlooks the lasting, cost-savings for immediate, upfront financial costs.


Can Airports be beautiful? Here are five of the world’s most beautiful terminals

By Richard Dinkelmann

At ICM Airport Technics we firmly believe that an efficient airport helps create a beautiful airport, especially when it comes to the checking in process. Our Auto Bag Drop units are transforming airport terminals around the world, reducing passenger queues and creating great traveller check-in experiences.

But beyond functional beauty, aesthetics also play a huge role in wowing passengers. Here are five very impressive airports you should definitely put on your ‘must visit’ list!

Changi Airport, Singapore: Combining functionality with uniqueness. Often compared to an amusement park with its host of attractions including a butterfly garden, 6m waterfall, indoor playground, movie theatre, four story slide, TV lounge and an outdoor swimming pool. If you ever find yourself stranded in an airport – this is the one you want to be in.

Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney: Before even touching down in Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith Airport, you know you’re in for a treat with a bird’s-eye view of the stunning blue/green visual of Australian landscape and Botany Bay. With its first flight dating back to 1919, Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the current international terminal in 1970. Despite being one of the world’s busiest airports, it takes care to remain as peaceful as possible for locals, with the Sydney Airport Curfew Act passed in 1995 ensuring the restriction of night flights. Qantas’ domestic terminal is one of the best, if not the best example of self-service check-in in the world, giving passengers a unique, fast and efficient check-in process.

King Abdulazziz International Airport, Jeddah: An airport you may only get to admire on print, its Jeddah Hajj terminal is only active during the six-week ‘hajj’ period where it literally becomes the ‘gateway to heaven’ for tens of thousands of people a day – making it one of the busiest airports in the world during this period. Its unique design of white fibreglass tents gives it an authentic Arabian look while helping to save on expensive air-conditioning.

Venice-Lido Airport, Venice: For those who like something more quaint, this delightful European airport was built in the 1930s and takes care to retain the authenticity of the era with a bright and classical departure lounge dominated by a grand piano. The airport is beautifully situated next to a lagoon, with medieval architecture close by for a touch of heritage. Travel to the airport is equally quaint with options including water taxi, foot or bike.

Courcheval Airport, France: If this airport is good enough for James Bond, then you know you’re on to something. Featuring in the 1997 Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, this picturesque airport was built in the early 60s to service the high-end French Alpine ski resort. The unique infrastructure of this mountain destination ensures pilots are tasked with more challenging flight conditions, including a shorter mountainside sloping runway that allows aircraft to take off quicker, although landing views are more daunting. Pilots even require a special certificate to fly here.

Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, South Africa: When you land at KMIA, the gateway to the world famous Kruger National Park, you feel as if you’ve arrived in the bush, with the terminal roof thatched and decorated in a traditional, African theme. Travellers receive a very personalised and relaxed reception, alongside being offered all the modern amenities required by international travellers. And here’s a fun fact – when the airport was opened in October 2002, it was the largest terminal building under thatch in the world!

Richard Dinkelmann is CEO of ICM Airport Technics.

Automatic for the people: How self-service is changing our lives, for the better

By Richard Dinkelmann

The advantages of self-service automation from a business point of view are very clear – from increased efficiency to reduced costs to better space utilisation. But, when it comes to those day-to-day physical tasks automation is also greatly improving the customer experience.

Here are four spaces where we believe that automation is making life much better for everyone:

Airport check-in:

Despite the proclamations that, ‘Your holiday starts when you get to the airport’, we all know that your holiday actually starts when you get past the huge nightmare of check-in queues. Now airports are latching on to this and are trying to make this process much more streamlined – hence, the self-service baggage handling service that takes the stress out of holiday stage one. ICM Auto bag drops have processed over 25 million bags in airports across the world, saving passengers millions of hours in queuing times.

At the supermarket:

For those days when you just want some milk, there is nothing worse than getting stuck in a supermarket payment queue behind those doing their monthly shopping. Thankfully, self-service till points have revolutionised this necessary chore. In fact, according to one industry estimate from London based RBR research, by 2018 the global installed base of self-service retail check out terminals will reach 320,000 worldwide.[1]

Petrol pumps:

You know the feeling, you’re running late without a minute to spare – and the warning light pops up on your dashboard informing you you’re about to be delayed even more. After an internal assault on yourself (or whoever’s to blame for this stressful scenario), you pull up at the nearest petrol station, obviously its raining, you fill up your tank, race across the station to pay, queue behind someone and then finally complete the transaction before you spontaneously combust with rage. Well, thanks to Husky and Fuelmatics this headache may become a thing of the past – a robotic fuel pump may soon fill your vehicle when you pull up!

Car wash:

Whether you’ve been off-road racing, a freak shower just laughed all over your vehicle or a bird decided to relieve itself… ever noticed how your once sparkling chariot always shows you up at the worst moments? Some of you might not remember the days when a car wash meant awkward smiles at the man slaving over your mud-caked vehicle, making you feel lazy and inadequate even though you’re paying for a service. The introduction of self-serve car washes was a gift from above, as you can now pop a few coins and sit back guilt-free, without even having to touch your steering wheel, as the big machine with the large brushes does all the heavy work. Spoilt.

Richard Dinkelmann is CEO of ICM Airport Technics.


When it comes to retail and airport economics: every second counts

By Richard Dinkelmann

There is no denying that airports across the world are increasingly relying on their retail division to drive profitability, with leading specialist SITA finding that 22 per cent of Sydney Airport’s revenue in 2014 came from the retail sector alone.

This finding comes as no surprise for airport managers, who are seeing the dynamics of their business models shift. The increased power of low cost carriers, particularly in regional airports, means that the traditional fee-based structures are evolving. As air traffic continues to grow in light of the dramatically reduced costs of travel, higher footfall in airports is creating more opportunities for operators.

However, in order to maintain profitability, airports are faced with a new challenge: to provide travellers with new avenues to spend their money, and maximize the time and exposure that passengers have to retail within the terminal.

Airports are increasingly being recognised for the excellence of their overall shopping experience, bringing in leading retail design expertise to create spaces that attract and embrace travellers. Another important realization that is taking place is that by maximizing the time passengers spend in the terminal post check in, airports can dramatically increase retail spend.

In this new environment, designing and maintaining a pleasurable and seamless experience for passengers from when they arrive at the terminal to when they board their aircraft can make the difference between a profitable and a failing airport. Long and stressful waiting lines, or inefficient pre-security processes or systems have dual negative effects. They both create frustrated travellers who are less likely to spend in airport retail, and they reduce the potential retail spend time within the terminal.

Technology advances are fast proving to be the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to enhancing overall productivity and profitability in airports worldwide. Here are three leading examples of how airports are using technology to improve their customer experience and add valuable minutes to travellers in terminal time.

Auto bag drops: By making the check-in experience significantly faster, auto bag drops prolong the ‘golden hour’ between security and boarding, giving travellers more time to shop up a storm. SITA research found that 68 per cent of passengers actually preferred the automated check-in experience, so it is no wonder Singapore’s Changi Airport has confirmed its plans to deploy auto bag drops in their new terminal by 2017.

“Drop and shop” bag stalls: Vienna International Airport gives travellers the chance to drop off their baggage the day before travelling with a late night check-in counter, while Hong Kong Airport provides “in-town check-in” places for travellers who want to drop their luggage off at any time in the city and make their way to the airport bag-free; Less time spent in queues makes for more relaxed passengers, and relaxed passengers are more prone to shop.

Retail profiling: Airports are beginning to recognise the strong marketing potential of automated technology. International airports and airlines are jumping on board the Bluetooth bandwagon by using “beacons” to send customised, commercial offers to travellers shopping within a 30 metre radius. Tools such as facial scanning have the potential to reduce queue lines further, by bringing up travellers’ details automatically at the duty free counter.

So with automatic technology improving the overall, retail experience for travellers and accounting for a significant increase in airport revenue, airports themselves are fast becoming the new points of destination.

Richard Dinkelmann is CEO of ICM Airport Technics.

Beating the queues

Change is in the air for the time-poor traveller

By Richard Dinkelmann

Airport check-in queues are a frustration for travellers. For those on business trips they can lead to hours of delays, missed flights and even missed deals, while for leisure travellers wait times can make a stressful start to a holiday, and erode valuable airport shopping time.

The good news is that change is in the air. Airline travel is set to get dramatically smarter and faster in the next five years, with many busy airports introducing the latest technology to help save passengers, staff and airlines hours of delays.

Airports that invest in this area are likely to attract more revenues from concession and retail activities, parking and other real estate revenues.

Here are some of the airports setting new standards in fast travel:

-       Changi Airport, Singapore – The ultimate “destinational airport.” Named the World’s Best Airport for the third year running, Changi has a host of industry leading initiatives in place to make traveller’s experience more efficient and enjoyable. Innovations in the new Changi Jewel airport development include a transport lounge, offering services such as ticketing, issuance of boarding passes and baggage transfer services. Early check-in facilities will allow passengers to check-in for their flights and deposit their luggage ahead of the regular check-in timings. Singapore Changi Airport managed an incredible 54.1 million passenger movements in 2014, the most in its 33-year history.

-       HeathrowAirport, London – One of the world’s busiest airports, Heathrow Airport pumps an average of 201, 000 passengers through daily, with a total of 73.4 million passengers arriving and departing in 2014. Heathrow is pioneering biometric technology for domestic departures, and has recently invested in auto bag drops, which have reduced bag drop check-in to an incredible 5 – 10 seconds. This technology has been trialled at Heathrow’s Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.

-       Sydney Airport, Australia – The Qantas domestic Terminal 3 is setting the bar high when it comes to look, feel and customer experience at check-in. Qantas Terminal 3 in Sydney was the second airport globally to roll out an auto bag drop system, which frees up much needed space within the terminals and is fast eliminating queues and delays for domestic passengers. With simple and intuitive instructions, even inexperienced travellers can check in in seconds. Qantas are now using the ICM Airport Technics automatic bag drop system at all major airports in Australia – including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide. The airline has processed over 24 million bags, saving travellers an estimated 800,000 hours of manual check-in procedures, and is now rolling out the system for international travellers. The initiative contributed to Qantas achieving IATA platinum fast travel status in 2014.

-       Düsseldorf Airport – In July 2014, Düsseldorf Airport unveiled the world’s first robotic parking valet. Customers leave their car, and a robot picks it up and positions the vehicle in one of 249 dedicated spaces. The system connects to the airport’s flight database, meaning that customers find their vehicle ready and waiting for them upon their return. You can check out the robotic parking valet in action here.

Richard Dinkelmann is CEO of ICM Airport Technics.