An interview with Michael Tan, President & Chairman of the Board, Scarabee Aviation Group. By Ross Falconer.
Today’s travellers demand empowerment at every stage of their journey, from booking online through to self-service check-in, bag drop and boarding. Progressive airports are responding by focusing on potential pinch-points along the passenger journey, transforming the airport experience with streamlined, efficient processes.
A passion for technology is at the heart of Scarabee Aviation Group’s approach to future-proofing these processes at airports around the world. Indeed, the company is an innovation accelerator. Its new security checkpoint solution at Cologne Bonn Airport combines state-of-the-art technology with functionality and ergonomics to form a holistic concept. Michael Tan, President & Chairman of the Board, Scarabee Aviation Group, explains that “with a constantly high level of safety, the control process is to be made easier, more efﬁcient and more comfortable for both passengers and staff.”
Existing procedures were analysed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Association of the German Air Transport Industry in close cooperation with partners including the Federal Police, Cologne Bonn Airport, Lufthansa Group, and Scarabee Aviation Group.
“The checkpoint follows the principle that passengers can always go through the control process at their own pace, without impeding or limiting themselves,” says Tan. “It makes the security process clearer and more relaxed for passengers and for security staff.”
A streamlined security process is, of course, key to the overall airport experience for travellers. Bristol Airport opened a significantly-enlarged security search and arrivals area in 2016, which has eased congestion and delivered faster, more efficient processes. The project involves 12 security lanes, including a dedicated Fast Track zone.
“A preparation area provides a new space for passengers to get their belongings ready for screening, and an automated tray handling system streamlines the process through X-rays and security scanners where required,” Tan comments. “It creates a more attractive and comfortable environment, and helps remove some of the stress sometimes associated with air travel.”
Meanwhile, O.R. Tambo International is the first African airport to implement a Smart Security checkpoint, offering passengers a new security experience founded on the South African values of ‘Ubuntu’. The new checkpoint is part of Airports Company South Africa’s 2025 vision to provide sustainable airport management solutions. “Aiming to implement solutions that extend well beyond current check-in, baggage drop-off and boarding systems, the new security checkpoint empowers the vision to deliver great customer experience and foster growth and innovation,” says Tan. “There is a strong invisible bond between all of us through our humanity. This South African Ubuntu philosophy is carried throughout the vision of the new security checkpoint. It will offer departing international passengers a cultural connection with South Africa while passing through security, and a strong business case that will display a human-centred mentality, merging culture with airport design.”
Taking an airport process ‘out of the airport’
Removing complexity from the baggage process is another way in which airports are enhancing the traveller experience. The Taiwanese Government has built a new rail link between downtown Taipei and the airport. As part of this, Scarabee has introduced a baggage drop-off process to Taipei Taoyuan train station, with six bag drop units. Tan explains that passenger comfort is a priority and that the installation will “shape the connectivity of city and airport for passengers and baggage.” It is a good example of remote, off-airport processing, in which EVA Air and China Airlines are participating.
Meanwhile, a common use, self-service bag drop operation will soon open at Tokyo Narita Airport and subsequently extend to two additional Japanese airports.
“I would encourage the co-creation approach this year. I’d hope airports that have launched these new initiatives will share the results with each other, expediting further developments,” Tan concludes.