Published On: Fri, May 24th, 2013

Curaçao International Airport: Possibilities and Realities: Part 2: What is CAP doing To Improve Our Airport’s Competitive Position?

Ralph BlanchardIn my last article I elaborated about how passengers generally perceive our airport, and very often I hear comments from various sources that are quick to offer opinions about what CAP is doing wrong, or not doing, or should be doing.  But our reputation today in the eyes of the travel consumer falls squarely in the hands of everyone who has been a part of the airports system over its history.  Certainly, CAP has a role in this situation, but it should also be noted that CAP has already elevated the functionality, efficiency and appeal of the airport system from what was inherited.   In short, it was not only CAP that got CUR into last place in terms of passenger customer service and operational efficiency… that’s a long story in which every stakeholder at the airport has played a role.  And, going forward, it is contingent upon all of us to do whatever we can to reverse this perception and enhance the reputation of the airport and the island.

So what is CAP doing about this? CAP recognizes the need to enhance every aspect of the airport system and is making the investments necessary to overcome these operational and customer service challenges…and we are making steady progress. We have formed an Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Action Team with special resources to continuously look for ways to improve our facilities and immediately correct flaws and deficiencies in the facilities our passengers most frequently use.

In terms of major projects, this year, we have over US$9.0 million dedicated to improving the look, feel and functionality of the airport facilities.  Among the projects being undertaken will be: 1) new chairs for the passenger terminal that will greatly enhance the “look” of the terminal and minimize maintenance; 2) a significant runway improvement program to extend the life of the runway, taxiways and ramp areas; 3) baggage X-Ray and carousel redundancy to eliminate or minimize aircraft delays and enhance passenger processing; 4)terminal expansion planning has started in order to create an enhanced airport experience for passengers and our “meet and greet” visitors, while also providing better passenger flow, better passenger processing and optimized concession areas…and  there is more to come.  Over the next few years, CAP will invest again many millions of dollars to bring the facility up to regionally and globally competitive and customer-friendly facility.

I’ve heard it say that CAP has a “gold mine” at CUR.  Well, let me assure you that we still have a lot of digging to do before we find the gold!  The only “gold mine” we have is our passenger base and we need to do everything we can to make certain that our passenger numbers grow and that we continue to expand and diversify our markets.   The customer is the source of all our revenue.  That is the “gold mine” that we need to find… and right now our customers base is telling us that we need to do a much better job of satisfying their needs.  CAP is developing the physical infrastructure that will set the stage for future success, but we, and all of our other partners involved in delivering the airport & travel experience product also need to develop the “attitudinal” infrastructure that is required for success.

There are many destinations that are trying hard to attract the elusive passenger, and the better we are at competing for that passenger the better our chances are of being a very successful destination.  A new mindset needs to be adopted by all of us that will send a clear message to the travel markets that Curacao wants their business, welcomes then to the island, and is willing to provide a competitive business platform that enhances their opportunity to succeed.  There are no shortcuts.  A more customer-friendly and customer-appreciative attitude must be adopted by all of us if we want to find the “gold mine” that is called the travel consumer.

Remember that the consumers choose the winners and losers in our industry (and any industry) and if we do not provide the kind of travel “experience” the passenger wants, they will simply chose another destination.  CAP is doing its part, and we hope, and expect, that all of our colleagues involved in the success of Curacao and the airport system will do the same.

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