Miltos Miltiadous, Chief Operating Officer, Hermes Airports, interviewed by Ross Falconer.
Ten years after Hermes Airports took over the management of the country’s airports, Cyprus has experienced significantly enhanced connectivity. More than 70 airlines now serve 110 destinations from Larnaka and Pafos airports, which have both become vital to the country’s economic development.
During this period, Hermes’ role has been decisive in enhancing the operational capability of Cypriot airports, as well as in the efforts to develop the country’s tourism industry. “We are very proud of the results achieved so far, especially this year when we expect to reach close to nine million total passengers – an all-time record,” says Miltos Miltiadous, Chief Operating Officer, Hermes Airports. “In the first 10 months of 2016, we achieved a 17.7% increase in passenger numbers compared to 2015, exceeding eight million.”
This continued growth builds on a record year in 2015, in which 7.6 million passengers were handled (+3.6%) – 5.3 million at Larnaka and 2.3 million at Pafos. This achievement is all the more remarkable after the closure of national carrier Cyprus Airways in January 2015.
Hermes Airports is a key stakeholder in the efforts to develop Cyprus’ tourism industry, and has been an active participant in shaping the National Tourism Strategy that the government is aiming to implement in the coming months.
“For Hermes, it is imperative not only to run these airports in an efficient manner, but also to strengthen their role as a major contributor to connectivity of the island, the economy and tourism of Cyprus,” Miltiadous explains. “We are here to shape a shared strategy, to improve connectivity, and to facilitate communication, coordination and fruitful dialogue among all stakeholders to bring more tourists to Cyprus, and to help local businesses and communities develop.”
‘Strategic Customer Care’ plan
It was recently announced that the Ministry of Transport, Communications & Works and Hermes Airports have signed an agreement for the transfer of aviation security services at Cyprus airports to Hermes. In alignment with its strategic priorities, Hermes Airports has put “Customer Care” at the forefront of all of its activities. Its five-year ‘Strategic Customer Care’ plan was rolled out in 2014, and taking over responsibility for aviation security is an integral part of this.
“When we were approached by the government investigating our interest to take over aviation security, the main reason that we decided to pursue this further and eventually concluded the agreement was simply to be able to control better the delivery of the service, both in terms of efficiency and customer service.”
Miltiadous comments. “We have seen a huge shift in the way airports operate, knowing that their success is linked to the passengers’ perception of the overall experience in passing through the airport system. Overall passengers’ expectations and demands grew dramatically. The passengers are way more experienced in travelling and by far better informed. They expect hassle-free processes and products to fit their needs, including retail, food & beverage, and entertainment.”
Two related tenders have been launched – one for the Provision of Aviation Security Services, and another for Quality/Compliance Control and Transitional Management Services. Both documents have been prepared in consultation with the regulator – the Department of Civil Aviation.
The intention is to evaluate and award the Quality/Compliance Control and Transitional Management Services tender by mid-November and the Provision of Aviation Security Services tender by early January 2017. “Once this is done, we will implement a transition plan with the intention of taking over the aviation security services in April 2017,” Miltiadous explains.
This commitment to “Customer Care” includes the provision of exceptional services for Passengers with Reduced Mobility. Indeed, Larnaka International Airport was highly commended at this year’s ACI EUROPE Best Airport Awards in the “Accessible Airport Award” category. This, coupled with the fact that the “Hermes Disability & Equality Awareness Training Programme” has been recognised by the European Commission as “Best Practice in Europe”, truly raises the bar and Hermes Airports is striving to further enhance the quality of its special assistance services.
“We are intensifying our efforts to increase flights to Cyprus and are trying to take advantage of the increased demand. The main priority for 2017 is to stabilise the upward trend in passenger traffic and spread it out over all months of the year, aiming to combat seasonality,” Miltiadous concludes.