2nd World Airport Operations Summit: Interview With Sarah Frances Procter

Before the 2nd World Airport Operations Summit, we had the opportunity to interview the chair, Sarah Frances Procter. Sarah is the Director for Copenhagen Optimization. In our interview, Sarah shares her insights from the industry as well as what she expects from the summit. Let's see what she has to say:

 

Can you tell us about Copenhagen Optimization and its vision for the industry?

Copenhagen Optimization is a software and consulting company serving airports globally. Our vision for the industry is to innovate and optimize aviation to enable tangible, lasting improvements for people globally. We believe that growth without expansion is possible and in becoming more efficient airports not only improve the passenger experience, but they also reduce their CO2 impact.

 With our Better Airport® product suite, we push modern airport thinking and technologies into the stale world of enterprise airport software. The Better Airport® product suite is dedicated to revolutionizing the way data analysis and optimization are used to help airports utilize their current and future operational capacity and help them create a seamless experience for their traveling customers.

 

What are some of the latest airport trends you are excited about?

I’m extremely happy that sustainability has made it to the top of the agenda and the transition to net-zero emissions is in the spotlight. The global air transport industry has committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and everyone plays a role in achieving this. There is no alternative and all stakeholders in the aviation industry have a role for a more sustainable industry. Technology will of course play a key part in ensuring we achieve a more sustainable future.

Other latest trends I have on my radar are:

  • Virtual Queuing and the connected airport experience I find tremendously exciting! Virtual Queuing with the contactless journey is another trend that’s taking off rapidly at airports. Putting the passenger in control of planning their journey is a technology to watch.
  • Connected OPS in Aviation is new and brings together Digital Twin, ACDM and AI. I’m excited to see the technology advance in this area and enable a whole new level of Airport operations.
  • Commercial Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is another area where the trend is showing that aviation is investing to explore the low altitude aviation market (below 300 meters). This will provide completely new travel options for people and cargo in local, urban, and regional environments. I’m curious to see how the many pilot projects take off in the coming year or two.
  • Improvement of Biometrics capabilities – like many, I’m excited to follow how this technology continues to advance. 

 

In your opinion, what was the biggest technology or business strategy to come out of the pandemic and how is it impacting the industry?

I believe Virtual Queuing to be one of the newest and most innovative data-driven solutions to increase the efficiency of airport operations while providing a more seamless passenger experience. The fact that we see it being rolled out across many North American airports is a testimony to its potential and it is already delivering on its promise to reduce wait times, improve the passenger experience, and help increase non-aeronautical revenue.  It started as a technology to help guarantee physical /social distancing but quickly all airports and airlines came to realize that VQ was the ideal solution to empower passengers with control and thus giving them a friction-free journey.

The passenger feedback and satisfaction are high, as are the operational benefits including reduced wait times and better utilization of infrastructure and staff. I believe technologies like this are essential to help mitigate the growing problem of violent conduct at airports and on planes. Passengers are simply more stressed by traveling during the pandemic and Virtual Queuing helps alleviate that stress through efficient planning and a well-planned journey.

 

What are the biggest challenges that you see with trying to add digitalization throughout an airport?

Cyber security and willingness to invest in technology and change management. Covid-19 has caused unprecedented disruption to the airports and budgets are extremely hard hit. Furthermore, the industry has lost skilled employees and a lot of talent. I am concerned that if airports do not set aside the necessary budgets for strengthening their digital capabilities the impact on revenue, efficient utilization and passenger experience will be negatively impacted as traffic returns and peaks start causing bottlenecks and stressful situations for both passengers and airport staff.

 

What are your expectations for the 2nd World Airport Operations Summit?

I expect industry experts to come together with an open mind and willingness to improve the way we operate our airports. I encourage all speaks and participants to show an openness to share information and concrete case studies that can be of benefit to all attendees. Covid-19 has shown us the need for being more agile and willing do more and think less.  The result has been a steep learning curve and testing and implementation faster than ever before. Coming together for this summit will enable everyone to get up to speed with what is happening in the industry. Momentum toward normalizing traffic is growing and World Airport Summit is perfectly timed.

 

We can’t wait to connect with Sarah more during the summit and look forward to her fantastic moderation.  To learn more about the 2nd World Airport Operations Summit, request your free brochure! Then register today to join Sarah and other industry experts in two exciting days of knowledge sharing and valuable networking.