Security clearance gates, passport control, luggage drop off, help desks, airport lounges, restaurants… It’s safe to say that airports are multifaceted eco-systems. And so it follows that opening a new terminal is a huge undertaking. Thankfully, ORAT (‘Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer or ‘Operational Readiness Activation and Transition’ – more on this later) is a programme specifically designed to help airports navigate these choppy waters. Here, we take a look into the potential problems that can arise when opening a new terminal and how ORAT can help.

Why launch a new airport terminal?

When contemplating the launch of a new terminal, providing even the most basic infrastructure is a mammoth task. It’s no surprise then that some of the openings in recent years have been subject to criticism, delays and even temporary closures.

But, modernisation and progress is one of the key values of the aviation industry – “if not us, then who?” – and as passenger demand recovers from the shock that was Covid-19, much of the industry is contemplating improvement and expansion. Not only does a new airport terminal increase capacity and improve a city’s global positioning but it will also increase an airport’s resilience to disruption (plans for Changi’s new terminal 5 are designed to make the airport pandemic proof), and could even reduce emissions from aircraft waiting to land.

What’s required for a new airport terminal?

Opening an airport terminal is a highly complex undertaking that requires meticulous planning to get right. In fact, the design and application of runways, control towers and terminal buildings are only the first step in a long and multifarious process. New methods, new procedures, new equipment, new regulations, new questions… the list goes on. And, with every update comes the need to establish new frameworks, integrate new systems and redevelop SOPs.

And if that weren’t complex enough, there are also thousands of staff to familiarise, educate and train on these new ways of working. It’s all well and good having a state-of-the-art check-in system but if personnel don’t know how to use it, it’s likely to create far more problems than it solves.

Where can it go wrong?

In recent years we’ve seen a number of airport terminal openings beset with problems. New Orleans Louis Armstrong airport was one such casualty. The $1.3bn terminal saw flight delays, long queues and various instances of lost luggage on its opening weekend. Similarly, back in 2008, London Heathrow’s T5 saw cancellations and baggage losses in its opening days.

According to the Harvard Business Review, a lack of planning, a lack of training and a lack of communication were the reasons. 

How do you avoid such pitfalls? Simple. You learn from the past and do precisely what Heathrow Airport did for their seamless T2 opening – combine a dedicated and comprehensive overview of every single airport development with a complete training and record-keeping programme for each individual staff member… 

Sounds complicated? It needn’t be.

ORAT (and what can be done to safeguard against potential problems)

An ORAT programme is designed specifically to support the introduction of new airport infrastructure. The programme comprises of a dedicated series of systems and processes to identify and mitigate risk ahead of time. And whichever of its multiple acronyms you prefer, the overall objective is the same – to allow you to operate your new facility as if it had been running smoothly for years. 

AIRDAT’s Passport safety system works in conjunction with ORAT

AIRDAT’s Passport safety system allows you or your ORAT team to plan, manage, deliver, record and report on all the training your staff, 3rd parties and other stakeholders using the facility, will need. 

The cloud-based software allows airport managers or ORAT teams to control the entirety of the airport training procedure with an easy-to-use, intuitive system that meets compliance regulations.

AIRDAT’s Passport safety system in action

Manchester Airport recently underwent a £1bn renovation to its Terminal 2 facility. This fantastic new terminal proudly provides employment to 3,000 members of staff. That’s 3,000 people who required dedicated training and bespoke familiarisation tours. AIRDAT’s Passport software worked in conjunction with the ORAT system and allowed Manchester Airport to manage the booking, registration, testing and reporting for all staff who required tours and training.

The result? Let’s ask them: 

“The familiarity and simplicity of the AIRDAT Passport system ensured the process was effortless for both the airport and our partners attending.”Katie Rowson, People Change Manager at Manchester Airport

The final word

So, while opening a new airport terminal is undoubtedly a mammoth undertaking, if you utilise the right systems and software, you’ll be supported every step of the way.

Want to know more about AIRDAT’s Passport safety system? Get in touch with our dedicated and knowledgeable team.