Category Archives: Airport concessions

Up, Up, and Away: Hudson Group Finds that Millenial Travel Is on the Rise

We live in a digital world. Truth be told, I’m never more than a few feet away from my smartphone. It’s amazing how one small device can do so much to keep us organized and connected in every aspect of our lives.

The smart phone has even taken on the role of travel agent. Exciting new domestic and global destinations are accessible through Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. With a few taps, I can log into my airline’s app and book my airfare in minutes. In Atlanta, Miami, and Seattle, I can use my smartphone to clear customs. At some airports, I can even arrange for Uber or Lyft to pick me up, all without missing a beat.

More and more members of my generation are harnessing this digital power to travel. In fact, millennials are traveling more than any other generation according to the Hudson Group’s latest 2015 travel trends infographic.


As an aviation newbie, I’m quickly learning how eager airports are to embrace mobile technology to enhance the travel experience. You can read about some of the latest airport mobile trends in ACI-NA’s latest issue of Centerlines.

Millennials like me are looking for an easy airport experience. We want airports to provide us with the ability to use digital boarding passes, access free (and fast!) wifi, and order a taxi from our phones. While most airports are working to progress with technology, figuring out how to do so and what’s next is no easy task.

That’s why ACI-NA is excited about our upcoming Business of Airports Conference this April 20 – 22 in Phoenix, AZ. The entire conference designed to help airports think about “what’s next” and how to get there. Through networking and interactive sessions, airport decision makers and innovative concessionaires and service providers will have the opportunity to discuss and discover the different ways to embrace technology in the airport environment. Mobile trends will at the core of the conference agenda as we explore non-aeronautical revenue and infrastructure considerations, including in depth discussions on ride-booking apps and more.

Mimi Ryals
Communications and Marketing Coordinator

The New Fort McMurray International Airport: Gateway to Canada’s Oil Sands

by Jesse Meyer
Manager, Marketing, Communications and Air Service Development
Fort McMurray Airport Authority

The new YMM terminal, at the top of this May 2014 photo. The original YMM terminal, at the bottom, will be used for workforce charters, cargo and private aircraft.

Prior to its opening on June 9, the new Fort McMurray International Airport (YMM) set a goal to redefine air travel in terms of convenience and improving the overall customer experience for the nearly 1.2 million passengers who travel through annually. Not only is the new terminal building easier and faster to move through, customers will experience a new level of comfort in our departure lounges and exceptional selection in retail and dining, as well as a sense of place.

The new terminal building is approximately 15,000 square feet the size of approximately two-and-a-half Canadian football fields) and cost $258 million. It includes four aircraft bridges, two baggage carrousels, and more than 2,200 powered parking stalls.

One of the highlights of the new terminal is the concession program. SNC-Lavalin Airport Group was responsible for assembling a world class offering. From gifts and magazines to meals and beverages, YMM will feature 16 retail and food and beverage outlets to serve the full spectrum of needs while travelling. Passengers arriving at the airport looking for a place to eat will be able to choose from a wider selection of food options including two full service restaurants. The new terminal also will feature numerous digital and dynamic advertising screens including a massive 200 square-foot video wall in the arrivals hall.

An Award Winning State-of-the-Art Terminal

Check-in at the new YMM terminal

Northern Alberta has a natural beauty that is distinctive with dense boreal forest, limitless horizons, and the impressive northern lights. The design of the building had to take into account the drastic range of seasonal temperatures from -45°C/-49°F in winter to +35°C/95°F during the summer. This created some unique challenges that have been addressed beautifully in both form and function of this new building designed by the office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers. Stantec managed the project while Ledcor was responsible for its construction. The design for the new terminal project was named among 11 award winners of the 2013 Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence for embodying qualities of innovation and overall design excellence. The new terminal is designed to serve a modern and forward-thinking community, providing a springboard for the world as well as a welcoming gateway for residents and visitors alike.

The materials used express the drastic contrast of the region. Weathering steel, bitumen-colored metal cladding and unfinished concrete are among the many design features that add to the palette of the industrial landscape. These industrial materials are complemented with refined yet durable materials to polish the interior space using triple glazing, terrazzo flooring, acoustic wood panels and exposed mass timber structure.

This concept of green building practices is evident in a number of innovative features throughout the building design process. The highlights include passive solar orientation, energy optimization, super-insulated building envelope assemblies, in-floor radiant heating, displacement ventilation, and sophisticated heat-recovery systems.

A large south-facing courtyard was developed to give passengers an outdoor area to visit while passively harnessing the sun’s energy to reduce energy consumption throughout the building.

The most noted unique design element is the mass exposed timber assemblies in the ceiling and wall structure. These use reclaimed wood from the devastating pine beetle epidemic in British Columbia to provide both structure and a warm finish to the interior of the building.

Departure lounge in the new YMM terminal

With its focus on passenger comfort and convenience and its ambition to capture the grandeur and beauty of the region it connects to the rest of the world, the new Fort McMurray International Airport will provide an exciting first and last impression for visitors and the Wood Buffalo community and northern Alberta for generations to come.

ACI-NA Launches Edge4Vets at Airports Program

by Kevin M. Burke
ACI-NA President and CEO

This Memorial Day, ACI-NA celebrates the service members who have dedicated their lives to honoring and protecting the United States of America. In my mind, there is no better way to say thank you than to provide veterans with the skills and access necessary to make the transition to the civilian work force.

That’s why I am thrilled to announce the launch of our Edge4Vets at Airports program which aims to translate returning veterans’ military aviation skills to the civilian airport industry. This program, run through Fordham University’s Human Resiliency Institute and funded by the Walmart Foundation through the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families, will begin phase I in New York at JFK and LaGuardia airports. The hope is that this pilot effort will expand across our ACI-NA network to member airports in the United States.

On May 21 Edge4Vets and ACI-NA officially announced this partnership at JFKIAT, and also hosted an informal ‘teach-in’ with young veterans looking to get into the civilian aviation industry and older aviation veterans who have been working the civilian side for many years (pictured at left). The event boasted 50 participants, including 25 veterans from a half-dozen schools and 25 airport mentors from Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue and Hudson Group.

For me, the ‘teach-in’ solidified the genuine interest returning service members have about working in our industry and affirms my commitment, as a CEO of a leading association in one of the United States’ top industries, to make sure we reach out to veterans about the opportunities in U.S. aviation.

Edge4Vets at Airports will be working with ACI-NA’s Human Resources Committee to train returning service members in four separate workshops, all of which will take place at airports to maximize veterans’ exposure to the facilities and employees. While we are just in the initial stages, the goal is to expand to member airports around the country, using our HR network and capitalizing on the Edge4Vets program infrastructure.

We’re fortunate that airports represent a wide variety of skills and career opportunities that match well to the types of training and skills service members already possess, and ACI-NA is proud to take this next step with this Edge4Vets at Airports program. As the nation’s military commitments return to peacetime readiness and more veterans are looking to return to civilian life, we are preparing to welcome our returning heroes with exciting career opportunities.

Edge4Vets at Airports is led by its founder, Tom Murphy, director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. The Walmart Foundation, through Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, provided the grant to develop the plan for Edge4Vets at Airports. Edge4Vets will conduct a campaign to raise funds to implement the plan as a pilot in New York and then expand the program nationally to airports across the U.S. Edge4Vets will be working with Goodwill Industries “Operation: Good Jobs” program on this project.

Airport Welcome Mats Are Out

by Kevin M. Burke
President and CEO

Spring has finally arrived across most of North America, and with it, the opening of the travel season. At ACI-NA, we are marking National Travel and Tourism Week by highlighting some of the ways we work to improve the travel experience for millions of domestic and international passengers.

To provide a more hassle-free travel experience, ACI-NA is actively engaged in advocating for more support and personnel for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to improve the customs and security processes in line with the projections for significant growth in travelers, especially international visitors.

The positive economic impact of international tourism begins at our airports.  Last year, a record 69.8 million international visitors – spending more than $180 billion dollars – traveled to the United States. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates 4.7 percent more international tourists will visit the U.S. this year, with more growth projected through at least 2018.

To meet leisure travelers’ growing needs, airports are working cooperatively with CBP to expand the Global Entry program, which now moves arriving travelers more quickly, efficiently and securely through 44 U.S. and Canadian airports.

We have also advocated on behalf of initiatives like the automated passport control kiosks, to move U.S. and Canadian travelers through the Customs process quickly and securely. A total of 10 airports, including Chicago, DFW, Houston, Orlando, New York, Seattle, Toronto, Miami, Montreal and Vancouver now offer this expedited service, and we hope to see more in the near future.

In fact, Orlando is now piloting with CBP a program to have these self-service kiosks available for non-U.S. citizens.

Airports are continually adding new services to improve every aspect of the travel experience.  We’re seeing everything from spas and children’s play areas to fine dining that features regional cuisine and retail attractions that offer sought-after international brands or local specialties.  For instance, just this past week DFW announced that it is adding high-end retailers to appeal to international traveler.  Innovative service amenities like this are designed to appeal to domestic and international travelers, helping airports become destinations themselves.

These efforts are paying off.  Denver, which has been undertaking its own service and retail expansions, set a record in March for the largest number of passengers traveling on international flights in a single month.

With the increase in international travelers, it is clear that airports are the front doors to our nation, and our members are working hard to make sure visitors have a good experience.

Earth Week 2014: O’Hare Apiary Is Back with Lots of Buzz

by David H. Robbins
Project Administrator, Environment and Sustainability
Chicago Department of Aviation

Three years ago, the CDA became the first major airport in the U.S. to host an apiary on its grounds. Beginning with 28 beehives and more than one million bees in May 2011, the apiary has since grown to 50 beehives and is the largest apiary at any airport in the world.

The “buzz-worthy” initiative was made possible through a job training partnership with the Chicago Department of Family Support Services and the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN). The apiary provides job training to ex-offenders in the form of beekeeping and the processing of honey and honey-based products including candles, soaps and lotions.  These products are sold under the beelove™ product label in stores at O’Hare and Midway Airports.

In the first year of operation, the apiary produced 1,200 pounds of honey –or more than 40 pounds of honey per hive. Last year, the apiary produced another 1,200 pounds of honey.  Despite one of the coldest and snowiest Chicago winters on record, almost half the hives survived the season, and are back for more honey production this year.

The on-airport apiary helps replenish bee populations, which have plummeted over the past decade because of parasites and dramatic temperature fluctuations.  Since approximately 1/3 of all the food we eat is pollinated by bees, the CDA is helping to stabilize the local population of honeybees so they can continue to perform their valuable ecological role.

The CDA’s apiary has received numerous accolades and positive press thanks to its ability to truly embody the concept of people, planet and profit. It received the Environmental Achievement Award from ACI-NA in the Outreach, Education and Community Involvement Award Category.  The CDA also received the Urban Land Institute’s Chicago Vision Award; and CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino received a “Creating a Community That Works” award for work with ex-offenders.