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‘Modern Greece’ – our visit to GAD 2014

Visiting Athens in November must be one of the top perks of this job! The weather was glorious and the city was buzzing and vibrant. Unfortunately, the reason for the visit was not to enjoy the sunshine and the ancient sites or monuments. I was attending the Global Airports Development conference, an intense and extremely interesting series of presentations and discussion forums - which made up for the lack of ability to view the sights (sort of!). From privatisation of airports, to delivering developments of whole airports or just an extension or refurbishment on-time and on-budget, the sessions were enlightening and of a high calibre. We watched as Viracopos Airport (Brazil) was built from scratch in two and a half minutes! (Actually took 22 months, which is almost as good!)

The “who's who” of airports was there. The debate on whether Gatwick or Heathrow should be the one to build a new runway was interesting although it did seem a bit unfair that Heathrow had two proponents and Gatwick only one! The decision will pass on to the Davies Commission for 2015. Also interesting that once a decision is made it will take five years of planning and then five years to build a new runway. How can the Brazilians manage to build a whole new airport in 22 months whilst it will take 10 years for London?

Talking of politics – this is one of the main bottlenecks apparently, with the London airport issue a prime example. In Asian countries, it is population growth driving the demand together with the low cost airlines which is also driving demand in Latin America, although the planning in this part of the world may not be to the same level as that in Asia. The key to a successful airport plan is to keep it flexible as the speed a t which technology changes means that the uses of the terminal spaces can change over a short time span. Witness the changes around check-in areas and security.

Can airports learn from one another? Are they willing to share their expertise with their competition? It seems so – at least for a few. From Canada sharing snow clearing technology and expertise with Russia, to peer-to-peer training from regional French airports helps diversify activities for small airports and creates an incentive for staff. A new invention that measures and weighs hand luggage in Bologna is another example of knowledge sharing as they are more than willing to let other airports acquire the machine. However, not all activities are necessarily transferable and others may prefer to keep their activities closer to home thank goodness otherwise where would we consultants be if the airports collaborated on all their activities?

Next time in Kuala Lumpur.... Watch this space.

--- Laura McLauchlan

TAGI touches down in Manchester

Having joined JLL’s TAGI team relatively recently, I was delighted to attend the Aerotropolis EMEA 2014 conference in Manchester last week.

The day before the conference began, John Atkins of Manchester Airport Group was kind enough to give delegates a presentation and tour of the city – a great opportunity for those of us who had only ever been to the "business" end of Manchester Airport (i.e. flying in and out!) to see the bigger picture.

Manchester Airport is one of only two UK airports to have two runways (Heathrow being the other) and it caters for approximately 20 million passengers per annum. The upcoming Airport City has a property portfolio of about £600 million, approximately 1,000 customers, 6,000 acres of land and 250 buildings and is enjoying a c. £800 million investment to aid in its evolution.

During his presentation, John highlighted the key success factors for an airport city: global connectivity, national connectivity, available land assets, policy support from all levels of government, local engagement, infrastructure investment, an understanding of the market and what the requirements will be for the development, and growth and opportunity.

It was clear that whilst we may benchmark many airports in order to see what the world is doing, each airport is different and is motivated by completely different social, economic and financial drivers.

Day 1 of the conference began with an address from Mr Airport City himself, Dr John Kasarda.  He very succinctly framed the ‘aerotropolis’ concept, stating that an ‘aerotropolis’ is a strategy, not a real estate play.  He explained that the objective of an aerotropolis is to enhance the regional competitiveness through providing a multi-modal freight and passenger transportation complex and to support efficient, cost-effective sustainable development. To do this, the key value is speed - how long does it take to get to the city centre from the airport (only six minutes between Schiphol and Amsterdam). The issues now are time and cost - no longer distance and space.

But an airport city (which Kasarda defines as the CBD of the aerotropolis) also requires large jets, connectivity, flexibility, globalisation (producers and consumers), tourism, agility and relies on the perishability of certain goods being transported (flowers, pharma, fish etc.) as well as speed.

Kasarda described the airport as the router in a physical internet, providing the interface between global and local, acting as a business magnet and providing a catalyst for regional economic benefit. Consolidating one of the JLL TAGI group's key areas of expertise, he emphasised that non-aviation activity is a direct benefit to the aviation activity, as improving the passenger experience through the terminals encourages them to spend, driving the non-aviation revenues to exceed the aviation revenues, a common phenomenon at most airports now.

Further commentary on communicating the benefits of an aerotropolis was heard from Manchester Airport Group, Stockholm, Munich and Gatwick. Munich has difficulty with its quest for a third runway and is struggling with the community as they are fortunate enough to have full employment and do not feel the need to grow as they don’t need more jobs. A fine balancing act is obviously required.

We also heard from Heathrow, the city of Amsterdam, the city of El Prat (Barcelona), a major provider of services for airports and a consultant as to how collaboration amongst stakeholders will help build successful airport cities. Collaboration appeared to be critical in obtaining community buy-in to the projects, as well as gaining support from all layers of government.

The benefits of special economic zones, free trade zones and international alliances were highlighted to us by Dube Tradezone, the new aerotropolis in Durban, a South African tourism plug which helped reinvigorate the conference post-lunch.  The managing director stressed the need for a strategic plan incorporating community engagement in order to achieve successful growth of an aerotropolis to complement the area and maintain national and local political support. Above all though, she stated that strong leadership was essential.

Some of the other catalytic effects of an aerotropolis were discussed, looking at how to create the synergies between the airport and the metropolitan region, strategically and operationally including intermodal connectivity and value creation through provision of locations and opportunities. The importance of obtaining political support was highlighted through the example of Media City in Manchester receiving its planning permission in six weeks. The benefits of such efficient government action would be clear to all in the development industry.

The conference’s Gala Dinner was held in the shadows of the wings of Concorde at the airport (where else?) and included a tour of the craft followed by Holland vs Argentina in the World Cup.
Day 2 focused on connectivity and efficiency with some great trivia provided by the Internet of Things.  Did you know that 212 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020?!  Even in 2008 the total number of ‘things’ connected exceeded the world’s population…

MAG showcased the connectivity between the city and the airport through its soon to be opened metrolink and the future arrival of HS2.  Edmonton, Helsinki, Munich and Copenhagen airports were also given the opportunity to highlight how they are dealing with the airport edge city development, the trials and tribulations of dealing with community, political layers, and whether or not to include residential in the mix, difficulties of new runways, dealing with adjacent landowners and so on. The conclusion was that the aerotropolis is a functionally integrated part of the city, creating value for the city through creation of economic multipliers. Indeed some development would not take place in the area at all if it could not locate at the airport.

The penultimate session provided insight into how to attract investors to the aerotropolis, with MAG suggesting that equity participants provided expertise as well as finance; investors are looking for a strong business model, strong track record and the right product.

The conference ended with a presentation from Schiphol Airport showing how they have developed and improved the local area for its ‘inhabitants’ i.e. the employees who work in the various businesses located at the airport.  Schiphol offer free bikes available for tenants, open art exhibitions, a ‘white room’ for inspiration, relaxation, music, fresh air etc. 

After three inspiring days in Manchester, that sounds good to me…

--- Laura McLauchlan

How to look and feel good whilst travelling

Look and feel good whilst travelling1. Packing
Whether a city break in Paris, a fortnight in the Seychelles or a business trip to Berlin – pack carefully, a capsule wardrobe with separates that all go with each other – things you can mix and match with some small pops of colourful accessories. Cashmere wraps make really good blankets on the flight too – better than those itchy synthetic ones they give you on board. Try and put small items like underwear in your shoes to maximise space and think about shoes – I always end up taking too many – do you really need 5 pairs??!

2. Plan your journey
Make sure you allow plenty of time to get to the airport – rushing to catch a flight is pretty stressful and is not a great way to start any kind of trip. Airports are much better than ever before and have some great shopping and dining options – the new Aspinal of London store at Gatwick is going to be Amazing and the Jamie Oliver restaurant / bakery and bar at Gatwick north is a fab way to start your holiday or to catch up with colleagues.  If you are smart – you can even pre order your shopping – it's not just booze and perfume at the airport – there is so much more and if you are travelling within the EU – you can pick it all up on your way back or maybe have it delivered!!

3. Think about what you are going to wear on your flight
Unless I am going straight into a meeting when I arrive, I try and fly in stylish but comfy kit – nice jersey separates are always a winner and I tend to head to American Vintage or Lululemon. Flight socks, whilst not terribly glam are fab for long haul flights – they keep your tootsies warm and they prevent puffy ankles and swollen feet.

4. Don't drink alcohol
Whilst it is nice to have a glass (or 2) of wine on a flight – it isn't the best thing to drink (obviously…) – it ruins the chance of quality sleep, it is dehydrating and generally makes you feel a bit rubbish when you arrive. Maybe one glass – but then stick to water to keep hydrated – so you arrive feeling as fresh as a daisy!

5. Look after your skin
The air on planes plays havoc with your skin – dehydration being the main problem. Try not to wear too much make up when you fly – allow  your skin to breathe and apply a good quality moisturiser. I often fly with a mini pack of facial wipes – so that I can remove most of my foundation when I get on the plane and I will have a sample of my foundation in my handbag so that I can reapply on arrival! Sounds like a bit of a hassle, but it is worth it and you disembark looking fresh and glowing! Lip balm is a god send as are multitasking products like Bobbi brown pot rouge for cheeks and lips in fresh melon

6. Travel Minis
I seem to spend a lot of time in beauty halls and at cosmetic counters (don't tell my husband) and where possible I will pick up and freebies / samples of makeup and perfume which are fab to pop in your handbag – great if you are only away for a few days and taking hand luggage

7. Sleep / time zone
If you are travelling long haul try and get into the time zone of your destination ASAP – if its night time try and sleep if you can. I have trained myself to sleep almost anywhere and recently slept for an entire flight from Hong Kong only waking when we hit the tarmac on landing. Take a pillow, eye mask, blanket – anything that is going to help or what works for you. The same kind of applies to food – just because the crew are handing out the in flight meal, doesn't mean you have to eat it!! Im a big believer in food being integral to your body clock!

8. Entertainment
In flight entertainment can be pretty lame – and you don't even get it on short haul flights. My ipad is invaluable films, music and books all on one nifty gadget – I can also draft any emails I want to send whilst I remember! I download all those TV programmes and films that I haven't got round to watching at home (or that my husband won't watch) and I catch up on all my trash TV – Glee, Nashville and possibly a bit of culture – She Wolves – Englands Early Queens!

9. Chew gum
If you get blocked ears when you fly or you are travelling with a bit of a cold – chew gum as it really helps to pop your ears – and means that you are no longer deaf when you arrive!

10. Luggage
Choose robust, stylish luggage and always check the airlines restrictions as they all differ as to how many pieces and if you can have a shopping bag as well! I have a real soft spot for the Aspinal of London luggage – its simply gorgeous (if a bit pricey) and my Mulberry Bayswater is perfect for hand luggage – really roomy but also fits neatly under the seat in front.

11. Move about
Try and move about on the plane if you can and where possible – try some basic yoga back and neck stretches in your seat and also alternately clench your glutes as this will really keep the blood flowing and will eventually give you buns of steel!

12. Be nice!
Travelling can often be frustrating and stressful, but always be nice to the air crew and they will be nice to you and make your travel experience so much better. It sounds simply but it will make you feel better and will make their job easier!

---Victoria Gould