Benoy launches into the US aviation market, working with key partners to transform the passenger experience, beginning in the USA.
Once a leader in the global aviation market, the US is currently lagging behind Asia and the East, where airports are modernising fast to meet increased passenger demand. With a newly expanded presence in the US, Benoy is looking to reverse this situation, working with key partners to revolutionise America’s airport environments and transform the passenger experience.
The aviation landscape is changing. In recent years, annual growth in air traffic passenger demand has increased significantly, from 2.4% in 2008 to 7.5% in 2017 (Source: IATA; ICAO / Statista 2018) with total global passenger numbers expected to rise from 7.7 billion in 2016 to 10.7 billion in 2022. To accommodate this shift, airports in certain regions are being expanded to put passengers at the heart of a whole new pre- and post-flight experience.
Like other aviation markets, the US has experienced a major uplift in the last decade, with the total number of air traffic passengers travelling to or from the US rising from 139 million in 2005 to 244 million in 2018 (Source: US Department of Transportation, Federal Administration (Office of Aviation Policy and Plans) / Statista 2018). The US has always been a place of great innovation, and many major US airports provide leading examples for airport planning worldwide. Some revolutionary US airports, like Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), have set the bar exceptionally high, catering for high volumes of both domestic and international travellers.
But as Benoy’s Head of Aviation, David Coyne, observes, there is now an opportunity to take US airport environments to the next level: “Over the years, the US has produced some really great airports. But people have begun using facilities in different ways. The passenger has become increasingly important in terms of time spent in airport terminals. In fact, today the passenger is king, and not all US airports reflect that reality. So, there’s a chance now to align the US model with best thinking from around the world.”
Urbanisation and innovation
No longer the utilitarian places they once were, whereby people arrived, boarded a plane and departed, the best new airports are built around an expanded passenger experience that offers a greater variety of retail, pop-up, F&B and leisure options.
“In the last five or six years,” says Coyne, “airports have become destinations in their own right. People are wanting and expecting more, and in some cases, they don’t even need to leave the airport, so effectively are their needs being met.”
In what is termed the ‘urbanisation of the airport,’ surrounding land is now often developed to accommodate hotels, offices and retail hubs, enabling people to meet, conduct business or shop without having to travel into city centres.
And inside airport terminals, advancements in biometric data technology, such as facial recognition and fingerprinting, allow passengers to pass through security check-points quickly and easily. In some airports, passengers don’t even have to remove their laptops from bags for screening. Expanded common lounge areas, often enhanced with art and multimedia, also provide increased opportunity for relaxation.
“Within the terminal, it’s all about creating a smooth and enjoyable passenger experience,” reflects Coyne. “There’s a stress line that starts when you book a flight. It goes up as people pass through security and check-in. Using our expertise in retail, public spaces and people movement, in our designs we aim to reduce that stress line by enabling passengers to move more leisurely towards their departure.”
Benoy and the US market
Drawing on a wealth of experience gained in the aviation markets of Asia, Benoy is currently working with partners to accelerate innovation in the US. Most recently, the team has won a bid to work on the commercial interior of a new terminal at JFK. Speaking from Benoy’s recently opened LA Studio, Global Design Director, Jacqueline Beckingham, explains: “It’s very timely. US airports are going through these changes, and we’re really well positioned to step in and help. We’re talking to a lot of people in the industry here – not just the CEOs of airports and airlines, but fellow consultants, letting them know about our knowledge base and experience.”
In particular, the company’s work in Singapore, where Benoy designed Changi Airport’s Terminal 4, has provided a powerful case study and set a benchmark in airport development. Conceived and managed by Benoy from start to finish, Changi T4 redefined the travel experience for passengers through visual transparency and the introduction of innovative Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) initiatives. The work encompassed over 80 retail stores and restaurants, a 300-metre central galleria, and Changi Airport’s first ever walk through retail experience.
Critically, Changi T4 successfully reimagined the boundaries between the airport and its city context, reflecting the essence of Singapore in its design while maximising passenger comfort and convenience. These achievements have been recognised by a number of design and development awards, including a Prix Versailles and Singapore Good Design Mark. Following the opening of Changi T4, Changi Airport also went on to win SKYTRAX World’s Best Airport 2018, one of the highest recognitions in the industry.
As Coyne concludes: “Changi T4 and our other aviation successes are opening doors for Benoy in the US. These projects have shown people what we can do by breaking down internal barriers to create more free and open space. We’re uniquely placed in the aviation sector to work alongside architects to enliven these spaces in the US, to make them more personal and commercially successful.”