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EXCLUSIVE Smooth landings at Heathrow's new terminal

06 February 2015

How an airport service provider played an instrumental role in the smooth running of Heathrow Terminal 2

Heathrow Airport’s new $2.5bn (£1.65bn) terminal, officially known as the Queen Terminal, opened its doors on 4 June 2014, and is home of the Star Alliance, a consortium of 23 member airlines representing just over 20% of Heathrow’s airport traffic. This is the first time all Star Alliance member airlines operating at Heathrow are housed under one roof. T2 is also home to Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Little Red and Germanwings.

Terminal 2 has the capacity to serve up to 20m passengers a year, with forecasts suggesting 13m in the first year (June 2014-May 2015) and 17m in the second. Passengers have a business profile of 38% and a 90% ABC1 profile. Taking four years to build, T2 offers a seamless passenger experience, with features including self-service kiosks, self bag-tagging and automation.

A total 24,000 staff from more than 160 companies are responsible for keeping T2 running smoothly everyday. As a Heathrow service provider, OmniServ, which employs 1,400 people across the airport, and which is a subsidiary of Air Serv and ABM, says it played a pivotal role in the transition of a range of services – from airport ambassadors, inter-terminal bus connections, passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) and the travel retail offering – to the new terminal, and remains an integral part of its smooth operating.

Nine months on from the high-profile opening of the terminal, OmniServ, airport service provider, says it’s continuing to play an instrumental role in the smooth running of T2, helping Heathrow deliver on its motto, ‘making every journey better’.

“When plans for T2 were first unveiled, we were called upon to support the trials and testing, as we had done before for T5,” says Sally Alington, MD, Blackjack Promotions. “It’s essentially another airport, if you like, when compared with the size of UK regional airports. We knew we’d have to build up our existing contracts with additional staff and were prepared for that.”

OmniServ’s involvement began by working with Heathrow’s team on a programme called ‘FIT for T2’, seconding staff into Heathrow offices to help airport stakeholders with booking employees onto familiarisation tours, dependent on the individual needs of each business and each individual team.

In total, 229 staff members were brought in to work just on the familiarisation tours delivered through the ‘FIT for T2’ programme, with T2 experts helping with the tours, training airport stakeholders and understanding the different parts and areas of T2.

OmniServ itself was one of the companies which went through the familiarisation programme, covering the sectors of its business that needed to understand and be able to work in all the different areas of T2 – from PRM operators to Heathrow ambassadors, bus drivers, travel retail staff and logistics teams.

Between September 2013 and the opening of T2 on 4 June 2014, the ‘FIT for T2’ programme meant nearly 5,000 shifts had already taken place to ensure everything would run smoothly. Once T2 opened, the 229 OmniServ staff members who’d served on the familiarisation team were then embedded across the different contracts on which the company works, bringing their skills and expertise with them.

“These people were recruited with specific areas in mind – some are retail experts, others have gone into the PRM or ambassador operation,” says Antony Marke, director of passenger services, OmniServ. “Throughout our business we have T2 experts on every single contract.” OmniServ’s involvement with T2, a significant extension of its existing partnership with London Heathrow, now means OmniServ personnel are catering for the needs of passengers across more than 14 touchpoints.

Within T2 itself, passengers entering the terminal are greeted by OmniServ ambassadors, while Blackjack Promotions staff are present in the new World Duty Free store where they’re delivering the agency’s Contentainment offering, as well as the Destination Bar. While it may look at first glance like a standard duty-free tasting bar, the Destination Bar’s offer and the signage can be changed in just seven minutes.

Digital signage and branding, stock and even specialist brand ambassadors can be changed up to four times a day to meet changing passenger profiles and ensure the brands on offer marry up with the customer profiles of the different outbound flights that take off during the day.

The Destination Bar launched in partnership with Diageo, which used it to promote brands such as Pimms and Talisker Dark Storm. At the end of December, Bacardi moved in, and will be running activity until January 2015.

Heathrow Terminal 2 says it’s incorporated digital technologies throughout to cater to the needs of today’s modern traveller. “Working hand-in-hand with Heathrow, it has been a fantastic experience for us to be able to draw on our expertise through previous launches of other terminals,” says Ernie Patterson, chairman, OmniServ. “Manning the large-scale trials and testing as well as the familiarisation tours was a great experience and really helped us fine-tune our own services for the launch, as well as help the other companies working at T2.
 
“It’s no mean feat to open a terminal that handles 26 airlines, has 126 check-in desks, 33 retail units and 28 departure gates and there has been an unwavering focus across Heathrow on opening without any hitches,” concludes Patterson.

TINT BOX
SUB-HEAD: HEATHROW BY THE NUMBERS
238,949
Number of passengers recorded on LHR’s busiest day ever – 30 June 2013

1961
Year Terminal 3 opened, followed by Terminal 1 in 1968

8.2%
Revenue increase in nine months ending 30 September 2014, compared to 2013

1,227 ha
Total size of LHR, incorporating two runways


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