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AIRPORT TERMINAL FACILITY ACTIVATION TECHNIQUES SUMMARY The overall objective of this synthesis is to capture information about and lessons learned from airport terminal facility openings so that the practices currently used to successfully activate airport terminal facilities can be shared. The goal is to help make sure that the billions of fed- eral, state, local, and private dollars that flow into the planning, design, and construction of new and reconditioned airport terminal facilities result in facilities that successfully achieve airport and stakeholder goals by opening without the delays, diversions, cancellations, and surprises that can result in unplanned costs and embarrassment. This synthesis is based on information gathered from interviews with individuals who have been involved with one or more airport terminal activations. It reviews the processes that have been used in the past and are still being used to activate new and rejuvenated airport ter- minal facilities. The synthesis explains and summarizes underlying principals for successful airport terminal facilities activation and includes an overview of Current Effective Industry Practices that have resulted in successful airport activations and openings. The participants in the survey led or participated in successful airport facility activations at 13 domestic and international airports (see Table 1 in chapter three). In addition to detailed discussions of the activation of new and rejuvenated airport terminal facilities at these air- ports, participants shared experiences they had activating new and rejuvenated facilities at other airports. An example of successful airport terminal facility activation is the new jetBlue terminal at JFK in New York, which recently opened without much media attention and now ranks high- est in passenger satisfaction in all of the areas measured by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This feat was achieved by rigorous implementation of an exhaustive activa- tion program that provided jetBlue staff, airport authority staff, the TSA, and other stakehold- ers with the familiarity, training, tools, and confidence necessary to make opening day appear as if jetBlue had been operating out of the new terminal for years. Additionally, to facilitate management of politics and publicity, the ribbon cutting was held before the opening. There is a limited amount of public information regarding successful airport terminal facil- ity activations. However, there is much in the public record about the airport terminal facilities and airports that did not open well and the procedures that did not work well including: · United Kingdom House of Commons Transportation Committee, The Opening of Heathrow Terminal 5, Twelfth Report of Session 200708, HC 543, Published 3 November 2008 by authority of the House of Commons London, The Stationery Office Limited. · Report on findings of the two Commissioners appointed on 21 July 1998 by the Chief Executive in Council under the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance, Chapter 86 of the Laws of Hong Kong to inquire into the Operation of The New Chep Lap Kok Airport and the Problems Encountered Since it Opened, updated January 1999. · Dempsey et al., Denver International Airport Lessons Learned, McGrawHill Profes- sional, March 1997.
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2 The goal of this synthesis is to document current airport terminal facility activation processes and procedures that led to successful openings so that they can be shared and those respon- sible for activating airport terminal facilities can start from current industry practices as opposed to inventing or reinventing them. Airport terminal activation is the process used to mitigate surprises on opening day. This can be achieved by: · Confirming that the contractor has delivered on all contractual obligations and that the new facility is fully commissioned in accord with contract requirements, and fit for purpose. · Tracking progress to make sure that the construction team, the activation team, the air- port authority, the airline(s), and all stakeholders are ready and have the processes, staff, skills, training, and tools necessary to effectively operate the new facility. · Developing and executing recruiting, training, and familiarization programs necessary to help the airport authority, airline(s), and all stakeholders prepare to operate the new facility. · Preparing Plans of Operation that address normal, irregular, and emergency conditions. · Managing media and public relations so that expectations are controlled and accurate timely information is shared as appropriate. One interesting observation is that the same or similar practices were used to activate airport terminal facilities that opened successfully as those that experienced problems. Determinants of success appear to be how closely the practices were followed, whether decisions were made based on the reality of how complete the facilities were, whether air- port operations and maintenance staff and other stakeholders were ready, and when the opening date was set. Ideally, it is fixed when there is certainty that facilities will be 100% complete and commissioned and when airport authority, airlines, and other stakeholders are all familiar with the new facility and trained on normal, irregular, and emergency operations. Unfortunately, on many projects the opening date is assigned as a fixed date early in the planning, design, or construction process. When construction or design schedules slip, the activation period is often treated as floating and the activation team, airport operator, air- line, and other stakeholders are forced to compress the activation schedule. Because this may result in insufficient time for familiarization, training, and trials, this approach poten- tially introduces unacceptable risks and costs owing to delays, diversions, and cancella- tions. A better approach is to continuously track progress of design, construction, com- missioning, and readiness, and reconfirm opening day by when there is certainty about when the facilities are or will be fully completed and commissioned and the airport author- ity, airlines, and other stakeholders have or will have the staff, familiarity, training, tools, and confidence necessary to seamlessly operate the new facility so that it appears opening day is just another day. If it is necessary to fix an opening date early in the process, one way to mitigate the poten- tial impact of construction delays on the activation period is to include sufficient float in the schedule and funds in the budget so that if dates are missed construction can be accelerated as necessary to get back on schedule and allow for an adequate activation period. Media, public relations, and expectations are also managed. Airports that have received bad press at an opening have learned that instead of advising how well projects are going and what a great job is being done, it is often more effective to convey how challenging and com- plex opening a new airport terminal facility is. This way, when an opening goes smoothly, expectations are exceeded and good or no press is received. If an opening has minor chal- lenges it is expected and not really news. If there are major issues, the press will understand the challenges and hopefully be less critical in the coverage.
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3 In addition to providing an inventory of practices that have been used to successfully acti- vate new airport terminal facilities, the synthesis concludes that there is a need for further research to: · Examine how airport terminal facilities are delivered and identify ways to make the process more transparent. · Explore ways of keeping airport operations staff engaged throughout the entire delivery process (planning, design, construction, commissioning, and activation). · Develop and formalize industry best practices for activating new airport terminal facilities. · Better publicize and promote success stories.