Jorge Chavez International Airport keeps earning Skytrax’s “Best Airport of South America” award for a reason. That reason is related to sustainable development.
Skytrax Research has again granted its “Best Airport of South America” award to Peru’s Jorge Chavez International Airport for the seventh consecutive year. Also known as the “Passengers Choice Award,” annual Internet surveys provided by Skytrax allow passengers to choose the awardees themselves – in this case, more than 12 million passengers from 108 countries. In 2014 also, the airport won the award for “Best Airport Staff in South America” for the fourth time in a row.
Both of these awards speak to the excellence with which the airport carries out its services and the quality treatment its staff gives travelers moving through. After 40 years of neglect by former operators, the Lima Airport Partners (LAP) reconstructed and expanded the airport and its services, starting in 2001 with a 30 year concession, incorporating sustainability principles into the expansion. These principles are what helped the airport garner the two awards.
Voting passengers noted that the airport had good access and passenger transit, was comfortable and clean with clear signage, had reasonable waiting times, handled baggage safely, and flight connections were easy to make. The airport handled overflows well, transferring passengers within 45 minutes, in spite of double digit growth.
The airport’s growth and daily operations are managed by Fraport AG, which also holds 70% of shares in Lima Airport Partners (LAP) – the company authorised by the Peruvian government to run the airport. Fraport ranks among the world’s leading companies in the global airport business, offering a full range of integrated airport management services with subsidiaries and investments on five continents. Standards are high and management is constantly reviewing procedures for additional ways to enhance services.
The government contract establishes that LAP is responsible for the construction, improvement, and efficient utilisation of the airport, including a requirement that LAP invest $110 million to modernise facilities and services in its first several years. The company actually invested $135 million and expects to invest much more during its 30 year contract.
“We’re 14 years into it,” stated CEO Juan José Salmón, “and it really has been a great success . . .”. Although the concession anticipated 18 million passengers by 2030, by 2014 the airport was already passing through 15 million passengers . LAP now projects a capacity of 30 million passengers by the end of the contract in 2030.
The airport is in a key location, enabling it to be an interconnection point for regional travel. By offering improved infrastructure and service, the airport has attracted two major foreign airlines – LAN and TACA – to use it as their regional hub. LAN is the largest Latin American airline, based in Santiago, Chile. Avianca (TACA) is the main Central American airline, based in El Salvador. This keeps control of major airline transport within Latin America, fulfilling the sustainability principle of local (or regional) production.
Following the initial stage of planning and preparation, the expansion of Jorge Chavez International Airport, also known as the Lima International Airport, covers three stages. In the first stage, 2001-2005, the airport expanded its passenger terminal, installed seven passenger loading bridges, constructed new domestic and international concourses and a new commercial area, built a new cargo building, added an electric substation with a 12 mega-volt output, installed four water cisterns for a total capacity of 2,500 cubic meters of water, and built new and expanded offices for government entities in the airport.
During the second stage, inaugurated in 2009, the LAP expanded all three of the airport’s concourses and the south platform, adding new departure lounges, passenger bridges, immigration areas, and commercial outlets and franchises. They reinforced the terminal’s earthquake resistance and. improved traffic flow in the cargo aircraft taxi area. All of these changes increased the capacity and efficiency of airport operations, another sustainability principle.
The airport is now at its third stage of expansion. With other Latin American airports growing fast to accommodate the region’s growth of the mining and energy industries, Jorge Chavez International Airport can expect increased competition. The Peruvian government has promised 7,000,000 square metres (2.7 square miles) of land to the airport and LAP is developing conceptual designs for its use. LAP plans to develop a new terminal, runway, and parking lots, supported by new airport and travel-related operations like hotels, restaurants, parking lots, and a convention centre. As with the last two stages, this one is expected to create many more jobs for Peruvians.
Throughout the airport’s expansion and planning, LAP has kept its focus on sustainability. In the transportation sector, this means a focus on security and safety, the reduction of costs, and responsibility for the environment, according to Latin America’s President of IATA.
In 2014 the company redefined its vision, mission statement, and business principles. They added social and environmental responsibilities as priorities next to service quality, security, innovative efficiency, and financial sustainability, all core principles of LAP’s business. They used these principles to prepare an action plan for 2015/16.
In 2014 also, LAP calculated and certified its carbon footprint for the first time, utilising an independent entity, in accordance with ISO 14064-1. This made LAP one of the first certified airport operators in South America. They formed an interdisciplinary team called “ECOMISION” to identify and implement measures to reduce LAP’s footprint in the upcoming years.
So far the airport’s growth has resulted in a doubling of staff. Although the operations manager and a few other development managers are supplied by Fraport, most of the airport’s staff are Peruvian. LAP is constantly improving their training and creating a good environment for them to work. This includes identification of hazard risks in the workplace to reduce accident rates. Participation in company health safety training sessions is mandatory for all employees.
The airport’s vendors and suppliers are mostly Peruvian also. As the airport grows, so do they. “We are very picky in selecting our concessions providers,” Mr. Salmón noted. LAP has already audited 63 companies based at the airport for compliance with statutory regulations. Because the company aims to provide quality services, technical capability, safety, and security to passengers, it insists that all providers operate using the same standards as LAP.
One of the major challenges for the airport has to do with space vs. crowding. Cities grow faster than airports, hence there needs to be coordination between the growth of cities and airports, if cities are not to inadvertently reduce the capacity of the airport. The government also needs to be involved for optimal growth of both, if sustainable development is to be maintained, and the airport is to continue receiving its awards of excellence.
Written by: Susette Horspool
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