Published On: Thu, May 23rd, 2013

Curaçao International Airport: Possibilities and Realities

Part 1:  How Does The Passenger Measure Our Airport Against Other Airports?

Curacao airportLike you, I hear many reports and opinions within the community on subjects that cover all aspects of business and social activities.  While it is often very interesting to speculate on these stories and opinions, I try to understand what the real story is before formulating an opinion of my own.

Like other companies and organizations, stories and rumors about Curacao Airport Partners (CAP) are not in short supply, and I often am amazed to hear things that are attributed to CAP that are not the reality that I deal with on a daily basis.  Because CAP is such a critical element of the economic and cultural DNA of the island, I thought that it would be interesting to share with you a little more about the company and its vision, challenges and realities.

CAP is a privately held company that has the rights to operate, manage, and develop the assets of the Curacao International Airport, and, since 2003, has been involved in a process to render these assets into an efficient and profitable airport operating and business platform.  The infrastructure that was assumed by CAP in 2003 was operationally inadequate to accomplish the mission that was expected both by the investors and by the community.  Therefore a great deal of time and money was spent on initially bringing the facilities up to a standard that would facilitate the movement of passengers and cargo at a level of acceptability that would allow the company, and Island, to grow.

CAP invested approximately US$75 Million in order to acquire the concession and upgrade the existing facilities.  This investment was made at a time when the schedule of rates and charges at the airport were significantly below what was required to assure the investors of any short, or long-term, return.  But CAP saw a potential in Curacao that made the investment a strategic opportunity, and developed a business plan/strategy to achieve the needed profitability and also to provide the quality and level of services that is required by an increasingly demanding customer base.

The only way that CAP can realize the return on investment that is required to make their investment competitive with other business opportunities is to see the airport traffic and passenger base continuously grow in existing and new markets.  The customers, after all, are the source of all of our revenues, so we must continue to provide the market & services that will attract passenger.  This is a significant challenge, that can be difficult to appreciate from an outside perspective.  So let me provide a few facts that may help you understand that challenges that we face… and we face them knowingly and with the attitude that we will eventually overcome them and succeed.  For the purpose of this article, let’s start with what our passengers say about their airport experience here in Curacao.

Curaçao International Airport (CUR) is a member of the Airports Council International (ACI), a trade organization that represents airports all over the world.  Within ACI, we participate in a quarterly Airports Service Quality (ASQ) survey that measures customer satisfaction of airports worldwide.  In this survey, passengers compare the services, attitudes, facilities, concessionaire, airline services, etc., at CUR to other airports in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and also among a series of similarly situated/sized airports that CAP has selected against which we want to be compared.  There are approximately 36 areas of customer services that are measured by passengers.  CUR has consistently secured the very bottom position of all participating airports in the LA & C region, and we are also dead last among the airports we wish to be compared against…in virtually every category!  Now, that’s a challenge!  CAP is working diligently to reverse this situation.

In Part 2 of this article, I will elaborate on what CAP is doing to turn this tide and what is expected from everyone involved in providing service to our passengers to create the desired airport/travel experience. (Part 2 will be published tomorrow)

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