Creating more self-service check-ins and utilizing space in a more efficient way are just some of the solutions.

Beijing Daxing International Airport

Providing an optimized airport means achieving the best possible result given the many considerations involved. It doesn’t mean being a world leader in every aspect but rather finding the best compromise.

The point was emphasized in a GAPS session on the topic that further suggested that there is a range for optimization and an airport can deliberately choose to be at the lower end if it achieves a specific goal.

Providing the ideal retail environment to improve revenue for further airport investment might have to come at the cost of security queues.

Of course, any optimization, whether it is an existing area or an entire greenfield development, must be founded on sustainability

The redevelopment of a check-in area at Copenhagen provided a case study of optimization using the four-stage approach of vision, plan, design, and deliver.

The 110 check-in counters were becoming congested and no new counters were being built until 2021.

To deal with passenger number growth, it was necessary to optimize the existing area and processes. 

It was decided that counters were for passengers with bags only and those with hand luggage, nearly half of Copenhagen’s traffic, were encouraged not to dwell in the area.

A common bag drop for all passengers was also deemed a good idea to prevent airlines coming in with different systems. 

The bag drop became a two-step process as passengers at the airport were used to self-service kiosks and it also prevents too much of a queue at a bag drop counter.

More common-use self-service, mobile check-in counters, and even a self-service bag tag printer completed the transformation.

Of course, any optimization, whether it is an existing area or an entire greenfield development, must be founded on sustainability. A presentation gave examples of best practice in this area.

Renewable energy sources, greater use of public transport, and electric vehicles around the airport all play their part. There are some easy win-win inclusions. Natural light makes for a more pleasant ambience but also means artificial lighting can be turned off during daylight hours.

Building standards are still too low, however, and more must be done if the climate change targets in the Paris Agreement are to be achieved, particularly in the use of low carbon materials. It is not just about operational emissions but also about emissions embodied in the design. 

The presenter on sustainability, Antoinette Nassopoulos-Erikson, concluded: “This is not a question of choice anymore. This is essential.”