One for all

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Over the past decade passenger figures at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol have grown from 45.9 million in 2006 to 58 million in 2015. This figure is set to increase again in 2016 with a forecast of 63 million. These rising passenger numbers have occurred in a terminal that was originally built to handle 40 million passengers.

But despite processing passengers in a facility that, on paper, is not large enough to handle such high numbers, the airport remains one of the best in the world for the passenger experience. As evidence of this, the airport ranked 13th in the World’s Top 100 Airports in 2016 in the Skytrax World Airport Awards. And more recently, in May 2016 Schiphol triumphed in the Routes Europe 2016 – Overall Winner award at the Routes Marketing Awards, which are voted for by the world’s airlines.

“Schiphol as we know it today was developed in the 1990s. That’s when the last piers were developed,” comments Gerard Geurtjens, director of the new pier and terminal at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. “Since 2000 we haven’t carried out any major extensions at the airport, only maintenance and design improvements. Due to rising passenger numbers we are now in need of more capacity.”

In March 2016 Schiphol received approval for a new pier and terminal capable of handling an additional 14 million passengers a year. “This is part of a huge capital investment program being undertaken at Schiphol,” explains Geurtjens. “Landside and airside will both be expanded. The new pier and terminal represent the airside project, which includes a new baggage facility and all new IT systems needed to operate the facilities. The landside area will see improvements to the airport’s road system, car parking facilities and bus and rail connections.”

Right: The pier and terminal (highlighted in yellow) are the first of a series of innovative facilities that have been planned at Amsterdam Schiphol

One terminal concept

According to Geurtjens the new pier and terminal structures will serve as the foundation for long-term capacity growth at Schiphol. “The terminal will be built so that it is easy to extend in the future if needed. Any new facility we develop at Schiphol is built with the next 40 years in mind. The terminal is extremely flexible – for example, we will be using a roof with a very large surface area, which is completely independent from the building. This enables us to expand the interior of the facility easily,” he explains.

One key aim while developing the new facilities is to retain the airport’s one-terminal concept, which the airport has become famous for over the years. “Schiphol is known for its short and convenient transfer connections thanks to all passengers using just one terminal,” says Geurtjens. “With this expansion project we aim to maintain this concept. The new terminal will be built very close to the existing one, so it will still look and feel like one terminal. Scheduled for completion in 2023, it will be constructed to the south of Schiphol Plaza, right next to the air traffic control tower. A corridor will be built connecting Terminal One and the new

terminal. Walking distances and time between the terminals will be kept to a minimum.”

Schiphol is currently in the tendering phase for the full design of the new pier and aircraft stands. “We are planning to award this contract before the end of 2016. The planned completion date for the pier is December 2019. The design contract for the new terminal will be awarded in 2017, with construction starting in 2019.”

In the meantime, Schiphol is running simulation programs and design models to assess the best layouts for passenger wayfinding. “We want to keep walking distances between the terminals and between piers to a minimum,” Geurtjens says. “We are also working very closely with our airlines, including our home carrier KLM, to ensure that we meet their needs. Flights and gate allocations will need to be evaluated to ensure that transfer times are kept to a minimum.”

The new pier, which will be connected to the new terminal and will be located near the existing Pier B, will accommodate multiple wide- and narrow-body aircraft: up to either five wide- and five narrow-body aircraft, or two wide-body and 11 narrow-body aircraft. As a new feature, the aircraft stands on the south side of the pier will be flexible. This means they can be used by both narrow- and wide-body aircraft, because each space for a single wide-body aircraft can accommodate two narrow-body aircraft.

Left: The new terminal and pier will be designed to fit in with Schiphol’s existing facilities, including Departure Lounge 2 (pictured)

Design at heart

To ensure that the new terminal and pier employs the same design principles as the existing facilities at Schiphol, airport management has drawn up an ambitions document, which describes the main strategic objectives. “One of these objectives is sustainability,” says Geurtjens. “We are aiming to achieve a LEED certification on the new facilities. Another ambition is passenger centricity. The building will merely act as the structure – its content will be what matters most. We are closely evaluating the main processes we need to serve passengers and then we will be looking at the best way to carry out these processes with the passenger experience in mind.

“Another important part of the ambitions document is its focus on architecture. Schiphol is famous worldwide for its design, including wayfinding, interior and exterior design. We want the new facilities to be an extension of this so that passengers encounter the same experience wherever they are at Schiphol,” Geurtjens adds.

Once the contracts have been awarded for the new pier and terminal, Schiphol will use the ambitions document while working closely with the design company to ensure the airport’s needs are met. In addition, in July 2016 the airport set up a new design board to monitor the capital investment programs being undertaken. “The design board will advise the airport’s board of management on the quality of construction projects, based on an architectural vision. It is made of up internationally recognized architects and directors at Schiphol,” Geurtjens explains.

Future expansion

Schiphol is under no illusion that its one-terminal concept will last indefinitely. “Rising passenger numbers will eventually force us to look at new sites for expansion – sites that won’t be part of the one-terminal concept and won’t be connected by footbridges,” Geurtjens says. “In our current location, Schiphol is able to handle around 90-100 million passengers. We would not physically be able to grow beyond that. However, when the day comes when we need more space we might look at building a terminal on the opposite side of the A4 motorway. If that happens we will not be able to maintain our one terminal concept.”

The airport, however, has already made provisions to its existing facilities to ensure that if a new terminal is needed, it can continue to provide a high-quality transfer and passenger experience. “For example, we have made provisions so that APMs can easily be integrated to connect all terminals. In the current engineering calculations for the new terminal, we have ensured that the facility can hold an APM on its roof,” Geurtjens concludes.

To read the full version of the article in the January 2017 issue of Passenger Terminal World, click here.

December 2, 2016

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for our magazines and websites. Away from the office, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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