Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths says aviation processes must be designed with the customer at their heart

Dubai Airports and home airline, Emirates, have had a huge impact on global travel. That desire to break molds is not going away.

“Today’s travel processes were developed over time and from an outdated perspective, which suited the convenience of the supplier versus the customer,” says Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports CEO.

“There are too many links in the journey. Those links are too short and the transition between them is jarring.”

Amazon, eBay, Uber, Tesla and the like have demonstrated the value of breakthrough and customer-centric thinking

Griffiths calls for nothing less than “a complete rethink and a complete redesign” of aviation processes and infrastructure, with the customer at their heart. “We need to move beyond making incremental changes to legacy processes,” he asserts.

“Amazon, eBay, Uber, Tesla and the like have demonstrated the value of breakthrough and customer-centric thinking. We must learn from these examples and have the vision and collaborative commitment to bring them to the travel industry.”

Today, aviation infrastructure influences technology and process.

Our challenge is to create flexibility in airport designs that anticipate and can respond to these changes

In future, it must be the other way around, says Griffiths.

“Driverless cars, hyperloop technology, and other advances will fundamentally change ground transportation networks and intermodal connections.

"Our challenge is to create flexibility in airport designs that anticipate and can respond to these changes.”

Fully integrating customer-centric processes across all transport modes from origin to final destination is an example of that flexibility.

Our design for Dubai World Central, for example, includes an underground rail network

In effect, this would expand airport boundaries upstream to the point of departure.

“Airports must be fully integrated with ground transport and enable passengers and their baggage to be efficiently, securely, and conveniently transported from their home to the aircraft,” says Griffiths.

“Our design for Dubai World Central, for example, includes an underground rail network that delivers customers to within 400 meters of their gate. In a nutshell, airports cannot be designed in isolation.

"They must be designed as part of global, multi-modal, and rapidly evolving transportation network.”

The starting point for this transformation is real-time shared access to comprehensive and standard information about travelers.

The technology exists to pave the way for bespoke experiences

Biometrics can link the passenger to that information, which can be stored in the cloud for timely access by all partners in a simplified and seamless supply chain.

Not only will this facilitate a better journey but also it could be used to capture and relay customer preferences that create more choice and more personalized experiences.

In this way, says Griffiths, the aviation value chain will construct a customer service platform that can be all things to all people.

“We don’t have a choice to be anything other than that,” he concludes.

“The travel experience is very individual and consumers have elevated expectations based on their experiences with innovative approaches taken in other industries. The technology exists to pave the way for bespoke experiences.”

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