Can airside services change the ‘face’ of airport operations?

According to Allied Market Research, the global airside services market is expected to witness significant growth from 2021 to 2028.

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Airports are essential for a country’s economic prosperity and a job opportunity for everyone. International travel whether it is for business or pleasure is a vital part of life and airside services make the travel experience better and more efficient. These services support on-time flight arrival and departure and include ramp handling, fuel and oil handling, aircraft maintenance, and baggage handling, among other services.

However, airport owners, airlines, and operators have been facing several challenges to meet the needs of travelers. More and more companies have invested a colossal amount of money in the industry.

According to Allied Market Research, the global airside services market is expected to witness significant growth from 2021 to 2028. Surge in passenger traffic and cargo volume and rise in rivalry between low-cost air service providers are the prime factors that will drive the growth of the market. The rapid launch of airside services to improve passenger experience offers a lucrative opportunity for airport owners and operators.

Launch of novel airside services to improve customer experience
The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected the bottom line of airlines. However, as the world is recovering from the outbreak, several airlines have resumed their operations. Thus, market players in the airside services launched several services without wasting a minute.

For instance, Tampa International recently unveiled a novel service that offers touchless delivery of food to any terminal from 20+ restaurant locations around the airport. The service is launched at and is powered by food delivery apps AtYourGate and Grab. As the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged contactless services, these airside food delivery services are expected to witness significant demand in the coming years.

Apart from such food delivery services, companies launched airside services for pilots. For instance, in 2020, CAE launched Airside, a novel digital platform and an online community exclusively for pilots. The platform offers career and training tools to help pilots during the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout their professional careers.

CAE has developed this tool after surveying over 3,000 pilots in April 2020 and more than 10,000 visitors have got in touch with Airside since its launch. The platform offers career solutions, resume builder, podcast, and help them sharpen their skills. This offers them a boost to advance their career in a community where professional pilots can offer their resources and help them to succeed.

Development of airport infrastructure to improve airside services
Apart from contactless delivery services and digital platforms, the infrastructure of airports plays a significant role in building customer relationships. Thus, Riyadh Airports had offered a contract to Egis and its local subsidiary projects, which specializes in project management in the Middle East, to offer consultancy services for airside projects at King Khalid International Airport.

Egis has the experience of project management consultancy for reviewing new airside projects, construction management, and supervision of new airside infrastructure. In addition, the company will review and approve the contractor’s technical deliverables regarding infrastructure, baggage handling systems, and airfield ground lighting. Riyadh Airports will witness significant changes as the majority of airside infrastructure will redevelop, which includes taxiways, two runways, isolated parking positions, and cargo aprons.

Challenges and future of airside services
The demand for air travel has been increasing dramatically over the last couple of years. This overwhelming demand is directly responsible for the rapid launch of new airside services as airside operation teams have been working under mounting pressure to cope with passenger demands.

The major challenge for any airside service provider is to deal with growing passenger traffic and resolve congestion and forced limitation of services. The airside services industry has to find new ways to increase capacity and use existing resources more effectively. Moreover, the lack of expertise on how advanced technologies could be used to improve existing airside services is another major challenge for the industry. While more and more companies have launched new airside services to help passengers, the integration of new technologies in existing airside services is the key to improve customer experience.

It is important for ground handlers to maintain the efficiency of their operations and ensure turnaround times are achievable. Thus, airside services companies should emphasize on realistic planning and careful investments. As the air traffic is bound to increase post-pandemic, airports must expand their facilities and improve processes to remain efficient in accommodating several flights and passengers.

Although today’s ground handling sector is labor-intensive across the world, in the future, the integration of advanced technologies such as automation would improve airside services and will not rely on human interventions.

Words by Swamini Kulkarni, Content writer at Allied Market Research

All views expressed in this column are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect this publication’s view. This article was partially edited by Payload Asia and the author was not remunerated for this article.

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