Take offs & Land­ings

Air­ports have be­come des­ti­na­tions in their own right. Here are some of the top con­tenders around the world

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Cle­ment Huang and Tam­sin Cocks

Hub Tran­si­tion: Air­ports are des­ti­na­tions in their own right. Plus new route news

Strolling through the de­par­tures ter­mi­nal at Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port is a shopa­holic’s dream. Gleam­ing store­fronts house lux­ury de­signer goods, the lat­est tech trends, pre­mium luggage and un­usual sou­venirs. DFS Duty Free tan­ta­lizes trav­el­ers with high-end cos­met­ics, per­fumes, wines and spir­its, and there’s a wide range of din­ing out­lets ready to re­plen­ish you af­ter a shop­ping frenzy. Add in a di­verse num­ber of leisure options, and you could al­most for­get why you’re there in the first place. It’s a phe­nom­e­non that’s be­ing repli­cated at in­ter­na­tional hubs world­wide.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween air­ports and re­tail is a nat­u­ral fit; af­ter all, brands have a cap­tive au­di­ence of af­flu­ent cus­tomers with idle time on their hands. Sparks first flew in 1947, when businessman Bren­dan O’Re­gan in­tro­duced the revo­lu­tion­ary idea of duty-free shop­ping to Ire­land’s Shannon Air­port and the con­cept spread like wild­fire.

“What started as a rel­a­tively smallscale ac­tiv­ity, meet­ing the im­me­di­ate needs of trav­el­ers, has emerged as both an im­por­tant as­pect of pas­sen­gers’ travel ex­pe­ri­ence and a ma­jor fi­nan­cial contributor to the avi­a­tion sec­tors, ”says Colm McLough­lin, ex­ec­u­tive vice chair­man and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “With­out duty free and travel re­tail rev­enue, air­ports would not be able to pro­vide the fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices they do.”

A re­cent study by Cre­dence Re­search found that the air­port re­tail mar­ket was set to grow to $48 bil­lion glob­ally by 2021 – and what re­tailer could say no to a slice of that pie? “Once pas­sen­gers step through the se­cu­rity scan­ner a ‘golden hour’ be­gins. Most are rel­a­tively pros­per­ous; all are briefly at loose ends, ”says Saba Tahir, vice pres­i­dent of pur­chas­ing at Dubai Duty Free. Mean­while, Ital­ian sun­glasses man­u­fac­turer Lux­ot­tica calls air­port sales “the For­mula 1 of re­tail.”

Emerg­ing in tan­dem is a trend to in­tro­duce more leisure fa­cil­i­ties at air­ports – happy pas­sen­gers make for happy sales re­ports. Com­mon themes in­clude a fo­cus on F&B options, lounge fa­cil­i­ties, re­lax­ation ar­eas and tech­nol­ogy, while more in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions have led to things like Air­brau, an on-site brew­ery and beer gar­den in Mu­nich, and a mu­seum of clas­si­cal paint­ings in Am­s­ter­dam’s Schiphol Air­port.

Sin­ga­pore Changi Air­port

Changi Air­port needs lit­tle in­tro­duc­tion, con­sis­tently rated as the best air­port in the world by our read­ers. With more than 350 re­tail out­lets, busi­ness is boom­ing. Sales at Sin­ga­pore’s Changi Air­port hit a record high of S$2.2 bil­lion ($1.6 bil­lion) in 2015 – an 8 per­cent growth over the pre­vi­ous year.

“Re­tail and leisure is part of the air­port ex­pe­ri­ence at Changi, ”says Teo Chew Hoon, se­nior vice pres­i­dent, air­side con­ces­sions of Changi Air­port Group. “Pas­sen­gers can watch a movie, take a stroll in the but­ter­fly gar­den, swim a cou­ple of laps in the rooftop pool and shop for a wide range of goods.”

The newly opened Ter­mi­nal 4 has a ca­pac­ity of 16 mil­lion pas­sen­gers and 183,000 square feet of re­tail and din­ing space hous­ing more than 80 out­lets. Even more ex­cit­ing is the highly an­tic­i­pated de­but of Jewel Changi Air­port in 2019 – the enor­mous mixed-use com­plex has a ground­break­ing design, which fea­tures an in­door for­est and the world’s largest in­door wa­ter­fall, and will house nearly a mil­lion square feet of re­tail space.

Visit changiair­port.com.

Sydney Kings­ford Air­port

Aus­tralia’s busiest air­port is also the world’s old­est com­mer­cial in­ter­na­tional air­port, first opened in 1919. To cope with mod­ern de­mands and chang­ing traveler needs, it’s in the midst of a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar ren­o­va­tion with pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence fore­most in mind.

“To­day, Sydney Air­port is so much more than a fa­cil­i­ta­tor of travel, ”says Glyn

Wil­liams, gen­eral man­ager re­tail at Sydney Air­port. “There’s a greater em­pha­sis on the over­all air­port ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The re­tail strat­egy is ag­gres­sive, with ef­forts to se­cure brands that don’t ap­pear in any other Aus­tralian air­ports, or even Aus­tralia it­self. To that end, a new lux­ury precinct in Ter­mi­nal 1 of­fers global de­signer brands such as Max Mara, Tif­fany & Co and Hugo Boss. Mean­while, Heine­mann Tax & Duty Free has com­pleted work on the world’s largest stand-alone air­port duty free store.

Rid­ing the F&B trend, there’s been a fo­cus on food of­fer­ings, with celebrity eater­ies such as The Bistro by Wolf­gang Puck, and healthy options like Sumo Salad Green La­bel. Heineken House has also launched in T1, where cus­tomers can sam­ple first-to-mar­ket brews.

Visit syd­neyair­port.com.au.

Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port

It’s not un­usual for lo­cals to head to HKIA solely to visit the cin­ema. Sit­u­ated land­side in T2 is the big­gest IMAX in Hong Kong, show­cas­ing the lat­est Hol­ly­wood block­busters in both 2D and 3D. Also in T2 is the Green Live Air vir­tual golf sim­u­la­tor, where you can sharpen your swing on eight cour­ses from The Bel­fry to St An­drews.

Air­side, re­tail reigns supreme. Lux­ury in­ter­na­tional brands from Burberry to Bul­gari abound in T1, while more mid­mar­ket and lo­cal brands are found in T2, from where the ma­jor­ity of low-cost car­ri­ers de­part. The “I love Hong Kong” zone on Level 7 of the East Hall, has 15 well-known lo­cal brands in­clud­ing Shang­hai Tang and Dis­ney­land.

Look­ing to the fu­ture, HKIA has an­nounced plans to build Skycity – a mas­sive 7.2-mil­lion-square-foot com­plex devel­op­ment next to Ter­mi­nal 2 with a ho­tel, plus re­tail, din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties. The project is sched­uled to be com­plete by 2021.

Visit hongkon­gair­port.com.

Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port

As the busiest air­port in the world for in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger traf­fic, Dubai is ex­pect­ing to host to 90 mil­lion trav­el­ers this year. As a re­sult, the fa­cil­ity has seen ma­jor ex­pan­sions re­cently.

Ter­mi­nal 3 opened in 2008 bring­ing with it a wealth of re­tail and leisure options in­clud­ing Time­less Spa fa­cil­i­ties, a Zen Gar­den, an air­side ho­tel and two Ap­ple Stores. Fur­ther, in early 2016 Con­course D opened to boost ca­pac­ity ac­com­pa­nied by nine lounges, a range of F&B options and a mas­sive duty-free of­fer­ing.

Com­ing up, a ma­jor facelift is planned for the 16-year-old Con­course C, fur­ther in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity and re­tail options. In ad­di­tion, Dubai Duty Free plans to add an ad­di­tional 870,000 square feet of new re­tail space in time for the Dubai Expo 2020.

Visit duba­iair­ports.ae.

Seoul In­cheon Air­port

In terms of leisure fa­cil­i­ties, Seoul’s In­cheon Air­port is a clear win­ner among its ri­vals, boast­ing a golf course, spa, in­door ice skat­ing rink, in­door gar­dens, a mu­seum and even a casino.

In­cheon is also a mul­ti­ple“Best Duty Free in the World”win­ner in Busi­ness Traveler’s Best in Busi­ness Travel Awards, with 78 duty-free shops in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Lotte Duty Free and Shilla Duty Free. But the air­port is not rest­ing on its lau­rels. Pas­sen­gers can now reap the re­wards of a $4.6 bil­lion ex­pan­sion plan launched in 2013 to in­crease pas­sen­ger han­dling ca­pac­ity by 40 per­cent and ren­o­vate the re­tail of­fer­ing in Ter­mi­nal 1.

This is bol­stered by a thriv­ing din­ing scene that in­cludes lo­cal fa­vorites such as Mei­hao, Bon PiYang and Son­soo Bansang as well as the John­nie Walker House, a new lux­ury Scotch whisky em­bassy.

Ter­mi­nal 2 is sched­uled to open in 2017, as phase three of In­cheon Air­port’s ex­pan­sion plan to get ready for the 2018 Win­ter Olympics in Pyeongchang. New con­ces­sion and re­tail stores have been promised, along with a num­ber of on-site leisure at­trac­tions that in­clude koi ponds, in­door gar­dens and exhibition ar­eas.

Visit air­port.kr. BT

Main im­age: An illustration of the huge in­door wa­ter­fall planned for Sin­ga­pore’s Jewel Changi Air­port, sched­uled to open in 2019; Be­low: Sydney Kings­ford Air­port T1

Above: Seoul In­cheon Air­port is a leader in re­tail options

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