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37 CHAPTER EIGHT CONCLUSIONS AND CURRENT EFFECTIVE PRACTICES The projects included in this synthesis range in size from the a replacement, new/additional staff may only be needed approximately $100 million terminal and/or concourse expan- during the transition). sion projects to a multi-billion dollar new terminal, new con- Trial programs to prove that new facility, new systems, course, or entire new airport projects. Interestingly, the chal- new processes, new staff, etc., all function as planned so lenges faced by those responsible for the activation of all of that there are no surprises on opening day. these projects and the approaches taken to address them are A transition program to manage, monitor, control, and remarkably similar: report on progress of transition. A public relations or media management program to pro- All of those interviewed indicated that the projects they vide media with accurate, timely, unbiased information. were involved with incorporated an activation program Unfortunately, problems get much more media attention of varying degrees of formality and comprehensiveness. than successes. Therefore, ideally, new airport facilities All of those interviewed indicated that activation pro- open with little or no media attention. grams cannot start too early. Sometimes programs started during the later stages of construction resulting in a need Although these current practices have resulted in success- to develop operational procedures based on what was ful airport terminal facility activations, there is still room built as opposed to creating new facilities that most effec- for improvement. The biggest challenge is generally open, tively support operational requirements. transparent communications between the construction/ commissioning team, the activation team, and all other stake- Although the industry has not yet established best practices holders. The goal of the construction/commissioning team is to for airport terminal facilities activation, those involved with construct, commission, and handover the facility as soon as opening new airport terminal facilities have independently possible. Any extension in the construction and commissioning arrived at processes and procedures that are very similar. This period results in added costs and delays in payments. Therefore, is likely because many individuals involved with airport oper- there is a motive for hiding delays in construction and commis- sioning. The result is that sometimes the opening date is not ations regularly meet at industry conferences and are willing to informed by actual completion and some facilities are activated share experiences and provide advice on what works well and before construction and commissioning is 100% complete. what can be done better. This informal process has resulted in most airport terminal facilities activation programs adopting As evidenced by the well-publicized, disconcerting, and current practices, which include: expensive problems experienced at the opening of Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong, Terminal 5 at London Heathrow in the Establishing an activation steering committee with exec- United Kingdom, and other new airport facilities outside North utive level sponsorship and representatives of all airport America, it appears that lessons learned from troubled airport departments, airline(s), the construction/capital projects openings have not been universally learned. To mitigate the team, and other stakeholders. possible problems at future airport openings, further research Creating focus groups to work on specific aspects of the is needed to: activation (e.g., development of plans of operation, train- ing, trials, and planning the activation). 1. Examine how airport terminal facilities are delivered Mechanisms to track and report on progress. The trans- and identify ways to make the process more transparent. parency, accuracy, and timeliness of progress tracking 2. Explore ways of keeping airport operations staff engaged and reporting appear to be a key predictor of success. throughout the entire delivery process (planning, design, When focus groups and steering committees do not have construction, commissioning, and activation). accurate, timely information, decisions can be flawed. 3. Develop a comprehensive database of practices used Training and familiarization programs to ensure that air- to activate airport facilities and formalize industry best port authority staff, airlines, and other stakeholders are practices for activating new airport terminal facilities. familiar with the new facility and trained on new systems 4. Develop an inventory of and better publicize and pro- and procedures. mote success stories highlighting the importance of air- Recruitment programs for additional staff necessary to port terminal facilities activation programs and identi- operate new facilities (note that when the new facility is fying the practices that lead to success.