Enhancing the passenger experience and implementing innovative solutions continues to be an important focus for Montréal-Trudeau Airport, as it seeks to add capacity and meet growing demand. Philippe Rainville, President and CEO, Aéroports de Montréal, outlines developments to Marta Dimitrova.
Amidst unprecedented growth in passenger traffic and ever-increasing security requirements, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) is constantly innovating and working closely with its partners to ensure travellers have a memorable experience at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport. “Making the travel experience enjoyable while ensuring a high level of security, remains an important issue and a constant challenge, not only for us but for every airport administrator,” says Philippe Rainville, ADM’s President and CEO. “This challenge has a positive side, however, since it creates opportunities for new ideas and for working with all stakeholders in our industry to find solutions, and it is possible.”
Passenger volume at Montréal-Trudeau has increased by an average 4.8% annually over the past years and in the first half of 2017 alone went up 8.6% to a record 8.5 million compared with the same period last year.
This impressive increase in passenger traffic, combined with continued stringent security measures, has at times led to longer wait times at security checkpoints and border control, especially for international arrivals where volumes have been rising by an average 10%. “Last year, during peak periods, some passengers were having to wait almost an hour to clear customs and immigration,” notes Rainville. “So, we worked closely with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and a specialised firm to develop innovative strategies to improve the arrivals process.”
Using computer simulations, ADM determined that major efficiencies in fluidity could be gained by separating passengers whose final destination is Montréal from those who are simply transiting through the airport. It then established a dedicated connections centre that enables connecting passengers – who make up nearly 20% of Montréal-Trudeau’s total volume – to clear the Canadian border apart from other arriving travellers. ADM and the CBSA also added automated customs and immigration screening kiosks and inspection lines, and increased personnel during specific hours to better allocate staff and resources according to needs. Moreover, wait times are now posted, in real time, to better inform passengers and will soon be available at the exit of international arrivals for families and friends. All the enhancements were accompanied by increased personnel training with a focus on courtesy, respect, and pleasant interactions with customers.
The changes have generated very positive results. This summer, the average wait time at international arrivals was less than 10 minutes daily and there were no incidents of a wait time longer than 45 minutes compared with 27 last year. “This demonstrates that it is possible to meet security requirements while enhancing the passenger experience, during a period of strong growth in air traffic,” says Rainville, adding that an expanded connections centre is already planned for next year. “The passenger experience is a central focus of our development strategy. That’s why we are placing so much emphasis on user-friendly processes that reduce people’s anxiety levels while providing a highly attractive environment. Innovative solutions will continue to be important as we seek to add capacity and meet growing demand at our airport in the next five to 10 years,” he concludes.