Aruba Airport: Gateway 2030 Project

Guest Author by Guest Author | Dec 1, 2017

Written by James Fazio, CEO, Aruba Airport Authority N.V.

After several years of careful planning, Aruba Airport Authority N.V. (AAA) has entered the design stage of a major redevelopment project: the Gateway 2030 Project. The goal of this design project is to modernize and expand Reina Beatrix International Airport –commonly referred to as Aruba Airport – and to set the airport on a path of continued growth for the decade ahead. The project will include:

  • a new baggage handling system with full Transportation Security Administration (TSA) compliant Explosive Detection Screening (EDS) baggage screening;
  • an expanded and centralized check-in hall;
  • new immigration and security filters;
  • three additional aircraft gates;
  • a new retail and food and beverage area;
  • a modernized and upgraded U.S. Preclearance Facility; and,
  • technology and system upgrades, which include the expansion of the award winning Happy Flow biometric project, expected to be rolled out for U.S. airlines and Preclearance operations.

The airport expects to spend close to $275M in the coming three to four years, of which approximately $200M will be committed to the Gateway 2030 project.

The Beatrix 2000 project

Nearly 18 years has passed since the last major renovation of the airport, the Beatrix 2000 project, which included an expansion and renovation to the previous terminal built in 1972. The design capacity of this project was based on a vision for growth through the year 2010 and a total annual passenger volume of 2.6M passengers.

Passenger growth

At the completion of Beatrix 2000, Aruba Airport handled 1.9 million total annual passengers. Since that time, passenger traffic peaked in 2015 at 2.9 million passengers, representing an increase of almost 52% and a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 2.7% per year – a growth rate that is expected to continue for the years ahead. Project passenger growth is further complicated by the high peak demand periods that are characteristic of a tourist -based destination, which tends to draw airline schedules around hotel and timeshare changeover days and check-in/ check-out times. Currently, nearly 62% of all scheduled airline seats occur within a five-hour window each day. The development of infrastructure and processes to address these peak periods will be critical in improving the customer experience and operational integrity of the airport.

Terminal challenges and opportunities

The current terminal facilities present a number of challenges, both operationally and commercially.

The airport authority has made a number of significant capital investments in recent years to optimize the current facilities these include:

  • construction of a bus gate in 2012 ($1.0 million);
  • completion of the East Apron in 2014 ($7.4 million) and the Phase I West Apron in early 2016 ($8.85 million) which added a total of four remote aircraft parking stands;
  • 22 Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks installed to compliment the U.S. pre-clearance operation; and,
  • a total of 14 E-gates implemented for local immigration processing, facilitating both departing and arriving passengers.

The total investment for both border initiatives was just over $2.35 million.

Passenger experience

The airport has also taken a number of initiatives to improve the customer experience such as:

  • the reconfiguration of the main passenger screening point;
  • free public Wi-Fi, renovated VIP lounges;
  • new food units;
  • construction of an additional 700 sq. meters of new food and beverage space;
  • renovation of all public restroom facilities;
  • painting and refreshing of public spaces;
  • renovation of the Immigration Arrival Hall; and,
  • the re-design of the customs inspection area and baggage claim passenger flow.

In total, tens of millions of dollars have been spent in recent years to improve the capacity, safety, efficiency and passenger experience at Aruba Airport, however, the airport is reaching a point of diminishing returns without a major renovation and modernization program defined by the Gateway 2030 Project.

The overall program is depicted in the following representation:

Economic development

The Gateway 2030 Project will set Aruba Airport on a path of continued growth and provide the proper infrastructure to support Aruba’s ambitions for economic prosperity and future island development for the decade ahead.

Aruba Airport serves as the primary gateway for the millions of people that visit the island each year. Throughout Aruba’s aviation history, significant and systematic investments in the airport’s infrastructure have been critical in the growth of the country’s economy and development ambitions. It has been nearly 18 years since the last major investment in the airport’s infrastructure was completed, and during this period, air travel has changed dramatically; traffic has grown substantially, technology and innovation in airport systems has developed exponentially, ICAO airport standards have been upgraded, and security requirements have become much more stringent. 

The continued economic growth for the island is dependent on an airport that can support future increases in visitors, provide the highest levels of safety, security, operational reliability and serve as an exemplary first and last impression for the country.

The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

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