Interview: Kansai Airports’ CCO (Aeronautical) on digital transformation in Asia’s airports

Phu Nguyen Event, Event News Leave a Comment

“Security is never a revenue for us in this business. We need to make necessary investments to make security checks less of a burden for our passengers.”

– Gregory Jamet, CCO (Aeronautical), Kansai Airports –

Following the successful Aviation Festival Asia 2018, we’re launching an eBook featuring some of the industry’s most forward-thinking digital innovators to talk about their digital innovation journey and where they think we are headed. Download our ebook here for full interviews. Below is an excerpt of our chat with Gregory. 


Tell us more about Kansai Airports.

Gregory: Kansai Airports used to be a public company which is now privatised for a 45- year concession. Kansai Airports includes the Kansai KIX Airport, Itami Airport and Kobe Airport which we are taking over on April 1, 2018. We became a private concession in 2016. One of the shareholders of Kansai Airport is Vinci Airports, which hired me back in January 2016. With the privatisation, there was a lot of change management within teams, changing processes, new technology introductions and new commercial decisions. This move from a very public style organisation to a private and more digital organisation can be quite a shock in the beginning.

When pushing out digital initiatives, how has the internal reception been? Does it differ from previous European companies you have worked in?

Gregory: Sometimes, it might be a question of priority. Japan for instance, is very strong on their traditional hospitality, which takes up a lot of human resources, which is quite a big issue in a country with an ageing and declining population. So now we see a switch from traditional hospitality experience to more digital service elements. The challenge would be to get a good mix between traditional hospitality and technology.

APAC on the whole, might be lagging behind Europe in terms of market development and technology utilisation, but I’d give it 5 years before APAC catches up and even push ahead. I see a lot of energy and competition over in this part of the world. One thing that is very special to APAC is that no single carrier is ruling the sky — there are a lot of strong full-service national carriers and LCCs, which make the overall competition very strong, which is good in terms of passenger traffic, and in terms of economics, there might be some interesting consolidation coming up.

Is there a digital vision for Kansai Airports?

Gregory:We’ve got a clear vision. One of our shareholders is Vinci Airport, which runs 35 airports worldwide. The headquarter has this mission to support and give vision for the digital road map of each airport. At Kansai Airports, we have already embarked on different projects. For example, in operations, we’ve implemented a passenger flow management technology to track and manage real-time passenger flows and congestion points, which has greatly improved our operational efficiencies and passenger experience. Another big project which we are implementing together with SITA is an airport operating database to better collect, manage and analyse data. On the commercial side, we’ve also introduced some business intelligence tools to track things like routes performance. Every department is moving forward with digital transformation.

What is the topmost priority on this digital road map for Kansai Airports?

Gregory: Definitely customer experience. We’ve embarked on…

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