The beginning of 2017 brings joy and excitement to passengers, as leading airports around the world come up with innovative and creative ways to keep their passengers entertained. Here, Airport Business highlights five fun activities airports have introduced to enhance the passenger experience so far in 2017.
1. Heathrow Airport celebrates Valentine’s Day
London Heathrow Airport has been preparing for Valentine’s Day, as almost nine million stems of roses – 570 tonnes – are expected to be imported to the UK via Heathrow this month.
Nick Platts, Head of Cargo, Heathrow Airport, comments: “While Heathrow’s cargo team may be best-known for their daily handling of smoked salmon and engine materials, Valentine’s Day brings out the crew’s sensitive side as the warehouses are infused with the scent of red roses.”
Red roses are the international symbol of love and passion, and a single rose on Valentine’s Day is traditionally seen as a declaration of true love, while a dozen roses is symbolic of complete love.
Though red roses are often a symbol of national pride in England, most of the flowers purchased for Valentine’s Day are likely to be from abroad. 88% of fresh cut flowers purchased in the UK actually hail from countries along the equator, where they can flower year-round. In 2015, Kenyan roses accounted for 60% of rose imports at Heathrow – with the remainder from Colombia, India, Tanzania, and Ecuador.
“Passengers flying through Heathrow in February may be surprised at the amount of fresh flowers that are under their very seats courtesy of the airport’s direct connection to places like Kenya, Colombia, and India,” Platts explains.
To avoid wilted flowers and disappointed valentines, rose distributors rely on the quick and reliable transport air freight provides. 93% of the fresh cut roses imported into the UK market travel via planes – and more than a third of these go through Heathrow.
2. CATS the Musical arrives in Dubai Airport
Passengers travelling through Dubai International (DXB) have been treated to live performances from CATS the Musical as part of Dubai Airports’ ongoing initiative #musicDXB.
Selected cast members from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s globally-renowned musical CATS performed two shows for #musicDXB on 24 January in Dubai International.
Performers in the airport show included Joanna Ampil, who plays the iconic role of Grizabella.
Launched in November 2015, Dubai International’s groundbreaking concert series #musicDXB has created the world’s largest stage, in which millions of global travellers are entertained through the universal language of music.
The #musicDXB team sources incredible talent from around the world – from rising regional stars to major international acts – including Britain’s Got Talent finalist Jack Pack, X-Factor Arabia winner Hamza Hawsawi, and Australian soul singer Grace.
3. Gatwick Airport hosts LEGO tournament
For the third consecutive year, London Gatwick Airport hosted the Sussex and Surrey FIRST LEGO League (FLL) regional tournament, which saw teams of students from eight schools in the region compete to build LEGO robots.
“Gatwick is proud to have once again hosted the regional FIRST LEGO League tournament and thanks all of the schools and their students for participating,” says Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s Chief Operations Officer. “The standard of entries was extremely high and we’re delighted to be helping inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers from our local community.”
The event, which took place in the Sofitel Hotel, North Terminal, was attended by 10 students from each school. The ‘roboteers’ had up to 10 weeks before the tournament to build and program their robots around this year’s ‘Animal Allies’ theme before putting them through their paces to complete a set of missions on the thematic play surface.
The teams were judged on their ability to build and program the robot, their research, teamwork and presentation skills.
The judging panel, which included members of Gatwick staff, chose Reigate St Mary’s Prep and Choir School as the overall winners, who will now go through to the FLL International Open Championship in Bath, the first time an international final has been held in the UK. The winners of the National Finals will then represent the UK and Ireland at either the European Open Championships or the FLL World Festival.
FIRST LEGO League is an international robotics-based competition, which the airport has partnered, to excite young people aged 9 to 16 years about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). FLL is a collaboration between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) and LEGO. It started in the US in 1998 with 210 teams and has now grown to a global competition with 30,000 teams involving more than half a million young people.
4. Frankfurt Airport exhibits The Evolution of Flight
What do octopuses and rockets have in common? How have pterosaurs inspired the design of gliders? These and many other questions are answered by ‘The Evolution of Flight’, an exhibit that opened on 26 January in Terminal 2 at Frankfurt Airport. It is jointly hosted by Fraport AG and the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung.
Fascinating facts about flight are presented in texts, pictures, and videos on two ‘sciencecubes’ underneath gigantic model of ancient flying reptiles.
“Frankfurt Airport is always an experience for guests and passengers, thrilling them again and again with new events, tailored services, leading-edge facilities and surprising activities,” comments Dr Pierre Dominique Prümm, Senior Executive Vice President of Fraport AG’s Airside & Terminal Management unit. “The exhibit isn’t something you would normally expect at an airport, but it makes a striking and memorable impression. Our excellent collaboration with Senckenberg is yet another example of how Fraport creates a sense of place to make Frankfurt Airport even more attractive by distinguishing it from other, more anonymous airports. Here two of the city’s foremost institutions, namely Frankfurt Airport and the Senckenberg Natural History Museum, have joined forces for the first time in a project with great public appeal.”
The ‘Evolution of Flight’ exhibit is open around the clock near the platform of the SkyLine people mover in Terminal 2, and is free for everyone. Guides of the Senckenberg Natural History Museum will show visitors around the exhibit on selected days.
5. Rome Fiumicino Airport launches new season of concerts and events
11 January saw the launch of the new season of concerts and performances by the artists and young talents of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia at Rome Fiumicino Airport.
The programme is packed with events, one a week, which will take place in the various areas of the airport until the end of June. The extraordinary performance by Maestro Antonio Pappano is already scheduled, and due to take place on 16 May.
The musical events will revolve around the students of the Advanced Music Training courses of the Academy, in particular with the presence of those attending the Piano class, of JuniOrchestra and Choir students, in addition to the special presence of the Professors of the Orchestra and of artists of the Choir, which will perform at the pianos put in place by ADR (in partnership with Ciampi) at T1 – boarding area B – and at T3 – boarding areas D and E – and at the baggage reclaim area in T3.
Among the new features for the new season, some actual music mini-workshops will take place, led by musicians from the Academy, which will involve passing passengers and guide them in the first steps to play the piano.
The program started on 12 January in boarding area E, the 90,000sqm infrastructure launched last December for extra-Schengen flights, with the extraordinary participation of an exceptional passenger: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose music was the most appreciated of 2016, with 1.25 million CDs sold, according to American magazine Billboard. The Quint’etto d’archi of Santa Cecilia will organise a flash mob to remember the great master’s journey through Italy: the artists will also perform some pieces by Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach, leading to Burt Bacharach and Michael Jackson, performed on the stage on the second floor of the airport mall, devoted to the best of Made in Italy products, both shopping and food.
The new season of Santa Cecilia in Fiumicino is part of the events put together by Aeroporti di Roma to allow passengers to spend their available time pleasantly before travelling, with high quality events, and confirms Leonardo da Vinci’s role as an airport of culture.