Airports. You either love them or hate them. But with global air passenger numbers said to top 3.6 billion this year, a lot more of us are going to be seeing a lot more of them.
So what should we expect to see? According to the trade association Airports Council International, the trend is to bring the ‘outdoors into the picture’. Singapore’s Changi airport has already led the way here with a butterfly garden and rooftop green spaces but is now planning to go one better with a Rain Vortex, a 40-meter waterfall cascading from the roof of the glass dome.
According to the International Air Transport Association, airport operators are also trying to give passenger a feel of what’s local so that it ‘better represents the the city it serves’. For Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport that means housing a museum beyond passport control. The museum is an outpost of the City’s famous Rijksmuseum.
Mind you, ever the pragmatists, the Dutch are also revamping the retail areas in Schiphol Airport’s Terminal 2 so as to include Europe’s first Johnnie Walker luxury concept store and, of course, the obligatory Heineken bar.
Passengers transiting through Heathrow will know how many food outlets the airport caters for and how it uses high profile chefs, such as Gordon Ramsey, to persuade passengers to swap clothes shopping for fine dining. Not to be outdone, Munich’s Airport Plaza contains its own brewery, Airbrau, that serves its own beer, alongside local dishes such as schnitzel and sauerkraut.
Seoul’s Incheon Airport has gone much more upmarket and has installed a Traditional Korean Cultural Experience Zone where passengers can ‘learn about calligraphy or fan-making’.
Airport users, we are told, also crave a sense of space. And they’ll certainly get that in Mexico, when its new International Airport opens in 2018. The Airport structure will comprise one massive terminal housed under vast canopies of glass. Not only will it look and feel dramatic, but, because it has been built with fewer materials, it will consume less energy than standard, multi-building airports.
The UK’s trials and tribulations regarding the siting of a new third runway are well documented, but not surprisingly China doesn’t seem to have the same problem, and is busily building airports at great speed. Official figures suggest the country started in 2010 with 175 airports and will end 2015 with 230, that’s an impressive 55 new airports opened in just five years, or eleven a year!
Just one new airport, being built in Beijing’s southern Daxing district is being built so as to handle 55 million passengers annually.
Now that is a lot of trolleys to collect from the car park!