In 2019 your humble editor managed to clock up no less than 70 flights to four continents, followed by CoViD-19 years of more or less complete homestay. 2024 on the contrary started with eleven flights in three weeks, back to that pre-pandemic feeling. This is nothing to be proud about, as the jets of the aircrafts still use fossil fuel. However, it provided a good opportunity to check on the airport experience in 2024. My trips involved using nine different airports in Europe and Asia, sometimes flying Business class and using lounges, sometimes just using coach class of a low-cost carrier.
Unfortunately, the airports did not use the time during the pandemic to improve their infrastructure and performance. Most of them have been growing, resulting in walking distances of several kilometres between gates if you are unlucky. In a few places moving walkways make it easier to get around, but half of the time they are not functioning, or, worse, there are no walkways in areas with shops (a.k.a. almost everywhere). Passengers still encounter long queues for check-in, security and immigration controls on normal days, unless the departure time is 02.30 a.m. Security controls differ in their regulations regarding removing shoes and belts, electronic devices to be taken out or not etc.
All this happens with hundreds of millions less international travellers than before the pandemic, with many of the missing passengers being Chinese outbound travellers who did not make a trip in 2023.
We all know that nowadays you can bring an airplane down with a 10,000 USD drone, there is no need to smuggle a bomb onto a plane in the form of 101 millilitre of liquid. There are also few places left it would make sense to hijack to go to. Still, the show of underpaid security staff shouting in a bad mood in local language at passengers goes on as before.
This is not only bad for the experience of the customers, it also does not make sense economically. There have been more than eight billion air passengers in 2013. Each of them wasted 30 minutes (average) waiting in queues. Avoiding them with better organisation, infrastructure and meaningful levels of security would translate to four more billion hours airside, which could be used for shopping, eating, using lounges etc.
Even if the additional spending is only 10 USD per person, that would mean an additional 40 billion USD turnover - and happier passengers. After all, airports are earning their money from the shopping, not from the starting and landing of metal cigars with wings, which can surprisingly fly.
This week’s edition of COTRI INTELLIGENCE includes as usual the COTRI weekly Editorial you are just reading, the text “China this week”, the News and the COTRI News in the free content part. For the Topic of the Week (Chinese outbound tourism to Spain), the Deep Dive consulting (Health Tourism) and the Facts and Views (Interview with Old China Hand Dr. Kurt Grötsch) we invite you to consider a Premium or Premium Plus subscription and offer a special welcoming subscription for one month, celebrating the upcoming Year of the Dragon, with a 59% discount here: https://cotri-intelligence.ghost.io/welcoming-offer.
As usual, all best wishes to our readers from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the entire COTRI INTELLIGENCE team!