Jose Antonio Alvarez Fernandez, director of Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, tells Passenger Terminal World how the airport achieved the status of Europe’s most customer-friendly airport in 2020
How does it feel to be named the most customer-friendly airport in Europe?
It is an acknowledgment that we greatly appreciate, and it is joyous and stimulating at the same time. The people who work at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, the colleagues from Aena’s central services and all those at the airport belonging to airlines, handling agents, service companies, commercial establishments, officials of institutions and public bodies – in short, all of us who make this critical infrastructure work – strive to improve the experience of passengers and users every day as they pass through the facilities. That the work is publicly recognized is an honor and I want to thank each and every one of them.
What do you think makes Madrid-Barajas stand out?
In the current pandemic situation caused by Covid-19, Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport and Aena, throughout its network, have implemented an extensive program of safety measures at airports (such as hydroalcoholic gel dispensers, distancing brands, information in digital media, public address system, protective screens, prioritization of boarding on foot, queue and flow management, among others) in line with the recommendations of the European Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and in collaboration with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Likewise, the portal www.infocovidaena.es has been launched to enable passengers to find detailed information on the health and safety measures in place for safe travel, from arriving at the terminal and checking in, to passing through security, boarding and baggage claim. Furthermore, in collaboration with the health authorities, health controls have been implemented for passengers on international flights.
Beyond this situation, the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport is just 12km from the center of the city of Madrid, which means convenience and savings when traveling. It is also the point of greatest connection between different transport systems in Spain, as it has a unique road network and access by Metro, train, urban and inter-urban buses and long-distance services. We meet the different needs of all our passengers at all times, and do so with quality and efficiency.
What specific services do you offer to customers to relieve stress and make the airport experience enjoyable?
The Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport has numerous services that greatly improve the passenger experience. Among the most prominent are services aimed at families and passengers traveling with children: toy libraries with all the necessary services so that moms and dads can attend to the little ones while they wait for their flight to depart; differentiated security filters that allow travelers with children to pass through in a more agile, simple and comfortable way; strollers distributed in the boarding areas; and 18 playgrounds.
We also have a wide and varied commercial offer, not only in restaurants (à la carte food from renowned chefs, plus fast food and cafeterias) but also from national and international fashion firms, luxury goods stores, and retailers selling gifts, technological items, accessories, sports equipment, etc. We offer VIP lounges in all terminals, with showers and rest and work areas. And we have more than 25,000 parking spaces of various modalities: conventional, long-stay, express parking, low-cost parking and VIP parking.
We offer services for people with reduced mobility (PRM) including fast-track security filters that allow you to pass the security control comfortably and speed up the procedures prior to boarding.
We have airport signage in six languages – Spanish, English, Russian, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese – and we utilize facial recognition technology in T4, in the check-in area, at the access to the security filter and at the boarding gate, speeding up the process and increasing security.
What plans do you have to continue to improve the customer journey?
Improving the experience of passengers and users is a continuous task and in this regard, one of the latest actions has been the launch of AenaMaps, a guidance tool with maps that, within the Aena app, accompanies passengers in all the stages of their trip: from planning to the flight itself, paying special attention to their stay at the airport. The tool allows you to show your current location, search and move on the map, navigate to a specific point in the airport and calculate the travel time or distance, showing at all times the different services and points of interest, such as the boarding gates, shops, restaurants, toilets, etc.