Gateway to the world’s most ‘international’ city, Geneva International Airport (GVA) has experienced continuous strong passenger growth during the past years, registering a 9.5% increase in 2007 and 5.7% in 2008, despite the economic downturn.
Through its central location, its proximity to many holiday resorts, its status as home to the United Nations and other international organizations, and its role as a global banking and luxury goods hub, Geneva handles an unusual mix of frequent high-end business travelers, leisure passengers and seasonal charters, with strong traffic peaks during the winter months.
Since IATA (International Air Transport Association) and ACI (Airports Council International) are both headquartered in Geneva, the airport also strives to lead the way in implementing new industry initiatives such as self-service.
With average annual growth in passenger volumes of 7% over the past three years, the airport handled a record 11.5 million passengers in 2008. Much of that traffic increase is being driven by low-cost carriers, which now account for one third of all flights. Geneva International Airport forecasts
passenger traffic to reach 14.5 million by 2020.
The business issues
With limited available floor space in the check-in area, GVA was looking for ways of maximizing passenger processing throughput while cutting routine costs to its airline customers and strengthening its reputation as a pioneer of innovative technologies.
While an earlier installation of dedicated kiosks by one of the airport’s low-cost carriers had proven the viability of kiosk check-in for large passenger volumes, lack of space meant it was unfeasible for each airline to offer similar dedicated kiosk check-in facilities.
A shared approach that would benefit all airline tenants was the obvious solution.
Initially SITA supplied and installed 16 Common Use Self Service (CUSS) kiosks, strategically positioned to optimize space and streamline traffic flows through the airport. To meet constantly increasing passenger and airline demand, a further eight new kiosks have recently been added, enabling the airport to move four of the original kiosks to the adjoining train station, to boost convenience for passengers and further reduce congestion around the check-in area.
The many different stakeholders in the project created a high level of complexity. SITA played a central role in supporting, coordinating and assuring effective communication between all involved, including GVA management, Swissport (which acts as the airport’s central CUSS check-in application provider), leading third party IT developer EDS, and others.
SITA specialists provided vital technical support to the airport’s IT team, as well as to GVA’s airline tenants, ground handlers and third party application developers. In addition, SITA worked with GVA’s marketing unit to support strategies for promoting user uptake and improving passenger friendliness.
GVA successfully promoted use of the new kiosks through a passenger-friendly awareness campaign which encompassed proactive queue management and floorwalkers trained to assist novice users. Kiosks were customized and given a friendly name – Checky – and a cute graphic identity, to ‘demystify’ them and make them accessible and appealing to as broad a demographic as possible.
Early adopters included Swiss, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, followed closely by British Airways, KLM, LOT Polish Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines and TAP Portugal Airlines. Since the initial installation, the system has continued to attract new airline customers.
Today, passengers flying Iberia, airlines serviced by Swissport Fastcheck (including Alitalia, Baboo, Austrian, Aer Lingus, Finnair, Royal Air Maroc, Egyptair, Edelweiss, Malev, El Al, Darwin, Norwegian, Luxair, Middle East Airlines, Air Algerie and Air Malta), United Airlines and Air Canada can also benefit from fast, convenient check-in through Checky. In the future, carriers can even bring their own applications for integration into the system.
Other keys to success
The airport implemented an innovative charging model whereby all airline tenants have the right to use the CUSS platform, and all are obliged to contribute financially to its operation, regardless of whether they use it or not. This model has helped keep costs to individual airlines to a minimum, while encouraging more carriers to take advantage of the service.
Experience to date shows that airline adoption rates have been closely linked to a carrier’s willingness to set internal targets and implement strategies to drive passenger use.
Having set an aggressive initial target of 38%, British Airways has led the field, with the airline estimating that over 40% of its Geneva passengers – representing around 4,000 travelers per week – now check-in using CUSS kiosks or web check-in. In light of this, most airlines have subsequently set targets of their own and have seen usage climb steadily, with CUSS kiosks used to check-in more than 40,000 passengers since service launch.
The fact that the kiosks can be used by most airlines has also helped increase the adoption rate. Checky kiosks have quickly become seen as the simple choice for passengers, who no longer need worry about where they need to go to check-in.
An independent survey carried out in 2008, indicated that 41% of passengers in Geneva check-in using either the kiosk or the Internet.
“The new CUSS kiosks are a great benefit to airlines and passengers alike. Space and time are highly valuable, and CUSS kiosks are an efficient way of maximizing the use of both. Geneva takes its location at the heart of the aviation industry very seriously, and it is only right that the city’s airport is leading in the implementation of industry initiatives to make self-service technology widely available to the travelling public,” says Robert Deillon, CEO, Geneva International Airport. “The success of the technical solution and the GVA public awareness campaign has resulted in high adoption rates for CUSS check-in across all passenger demographics – not just business travelers. It has also seen GVA award
SITA complete maintenance of the airport’s over 400 CUTE and 24 CUSS stations.”
- Reduced check-in times, shorter queues, less waiting.
- More effective use of limited airport floor and counter space.
- Reduced passenger bottlenecks; streamlined passenger flows through the airport to the aircraft resulting in fewer delays.
- Simplified passenger experience, as Checky has become the primary entry point for check-in.
- Ability to handle growing passenger volumes while maintaining an image of ‘Swiss efficiency’.
- Airlines have more flexibility in coping with spikes in passenger demand.
- Shared cost model spanning all airline tenants minimizes the costs to each airline.
- Better allocation of staff resources.
- Economies of scale.
- Lower operating and maintenance costs compared to dedicated kiosks.