HUBS of Commerce
More than just landing strips, today’s airports are connectivity nodes in vast enterprises that span the globe
If you are not in a dash to the gate, take a walk around major airport passenger terminals and their adjoining areas.You will observe an amazing commercial and cultural metamorphosis. No longer restricted to book and magazine shops, food courts, and duty-free outlets, airports now house gallerias and shopping streets featuring brand name boutiques, specialty retail and upscale restaurants, along with live music, arts, entertainment and cultural attractions.
Locally and regionally themed terminal designs contribute to place identity and to city and regional marketing. The transit area of Singapore Changi’s new Terminal 4, for example, has been designed to feature Peranakan shop houses symbolizing “Old Singapore.”Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is developing a music-themed tunnel in cooperation with the city’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Adding to a sense of place identity are locally based merchandise and dining outlets such as Indy 500 Authentics in Indianapolis’terminal, and the wellknown Memphis barbeque restaurants at that city’s airport.
Concierge-staffed business lounges are sprouting up in the terminals along with concourse-connected four- and five-star hotels that serve as virtual corporate headquarters. Geographically dispersed executives fly in for sales meetings, client contacts, board meetings and highlevel decision-making, often without an overnight stay.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is a good case in point, hosting the world’s largest terminal commercial lounge. This 15,000-square-foot full-service business center supports up to 300 users with wireless hotspots, workstations, printers and meeting facilities along with large-screen TVs and advanced videoconferencing systems.
When business travelers aren’t working, they can enjoy an all-day buffet and an à la carte menu along with such personal amenities as spa-type massages, barber services, and manicures. If these travelers require an overnight stay, the 1,171-room Regal Hotel – winner of this year’s Best in Business Travel Award for Best Airport Hotel – is connected to the passenger terminal to provide an even fuller complement of business and service amenities.
At London City Airport, research shows that 61 percent of passengers are business travelers and that over half of them use