This year’s ACI EUROPE Best Airport Award in the ‘10-25 million passengers’ category went to Alicante-Elche Airport for its remarkable performance over the past year, securing 38 new routes and adding nine new airlines. Tomás Melgar, Director, Alicante-Elche Airport, outlines the airport’s smart approach to route development, passenger experience and safety to Marta Dimitrova.
Last year, 12.3 million passengers visited Alicante-Elche Airport, 142,398 of whom were Passengers with Reduced Mobility (PRMs). This represents 1.15% of total passenger numbers – the largest proportion across the Aena network. Considering this, the airport puts exceptional efforts into assisting and catering for different categories of passengers. This was recognised by the judges at this year’s ACI EUROPE Best Airport Awards, where Alicante-Elche won in the ‘10-25 million passengers’ category.
“Since 2015, we have been working on a Passenger Experience Improvement Plan called ‘ASQ: Our passenger speaks’, and we identified the basics in order to achieve the best passenger experience,” explains Tomás Melgar, Director, Alicante-Elche Airport.
Passenger flow at security control, and a focus on PRMs and families with children, are some of the highlights of the airport’s plan. Enhanced PRM services include a new dedicated security control area and an information point for PRMs in the check-in area, next to security control.
In terms of modernity and efficiency, Alicante-Elche Airport is continuously implementing new technologies aimed at improving the quality of service provided to customers, and also contributing to the economic development of the region. Last year, for instance, the airport implemented heat maps in the security checkpoints to measure passenger queues and waiting times. The results showed that the average waiting time at a security check point is 5.17 minutes, which is 0.83 seconds less than in 2015, despite a 16.7% traffic increase. A new playground has also been integrated into the baggage claim zone, after the success of the first area at the boarding gates, installed in 2015. Moreover, in 2016, the airport implemented a new runway safety programme.
Alicante-Elche also received recognition from the ACI EUROPE Best Airport Awards judges for its efforts to boost public transport connections. Melgar highlights improvements in the schedules and frequencies of bus links, adjusting them to the hours of activity at the airport. “We are connected by bus not only to the main cities nearby – Alicante, Elche, Murcia, Torrevieja and Benidorm – but also to smaller towns, such as Altea, Calpe, Denia, and Javea. We work together with the public transport organisations to keep the information at the bus locations updated.”
28 new routes, 9 new airlines
Alicante-Elche is also noted for its customer service to airlines, with 28 new routes and nine new airlines added over the past year. When it comes to promoting the airport’s connectivity, Aena has an active policy, offering three different incentive schemes and marketing support.
Aena’s policy is focused on three main areas – active route promotion, common communication channels with its clients, and cooperation with stakeholders. “Additionally, Aena participates in major route development forums, where we join efforts with the local tourism authorities in the promotion of the airport and the region it serves,” Melgar explains. “Numbers for 2017 so far have been remarkable with the airport growing 14% in the first half, and a very high occupancy rate during the summer season. Our forecast is to welcome more than 13 million passengers this year and maintain double-digit growth.”
Looking ahead, apart from the airport’s ambitions to attract more passengers, it will also focus on improving the passenger experience, providing attractive terms for airlines, and continuing to collaborate with stakeholders to boost the touristic development of the region.