Innovation Flies High at Budapest Airport

City

Ferenc Liszt International Airport has been steadily growing for several years. Mihály Hardy, the Communications Director of operator Budapest Airport tells the Budapest Business Journal about the innovations helping transform the airport into a Central European hub for passengers and cargo too.

Ferenc Liszt International Airport

“Aviation and airports in general are about constant innovation,” Hardy says. “This is, on the one hand, a very customer-driven industry, and on the other hand a battlefield of fierce competition, constant innovation and huge investment, both into the hardware of aviation and the people who operate it,” he adds.

“In our field, everything has changed and continues to change every day. While 15-20 years ago it took weeks to plan a foreign airplane journey, today you can decide in one minute and within ten minutes book an airline ticket, select your seat, book a parking space, rent a car in your chosen destination, pay for the insurance and book your hotel – all just with your mobile phone,” Hardy says.

The ticket itself has morphed from a printed document that would be redeemed for a boarding card at the airport on the day of travel, to a barcode stored in an app on your smartphone. “You do not even have to print your boarding pass: you are your own travel and check-in agent in one person,” Hardy points out.

Smart Travel

Based on statistics from the Budapest Airport, 80% of its passengers already use the internet and their smart gadgets to book their travel. “Airports help your way through all the steps with the help of digital solutions, and of course today free Wi-Fi at an airport is almost as important as a baggage conveyor; it is part of our daily life,” he adds.

Hardy believe that the buzz word for the future will be “flexibility” instead of ready-made off the peg solutions. “People will look for a tailor-made travel experience, where you pay only for those services that you really require. We see steadily rising demand for smooth passenger experience, however in the foreseeable future the demand for higher security and safety standards at airports will always be present,” the director says.

Keeping up with this maniac pace is only possible if the company focuses on innovation. So what does innovation mean for the company? “In short: Everything,” Hardy says. And that even goes as far as sustainability.

“Budapest Airport is one of the leading companies in not only advocating but also implementing technologies that help to reduce the carbon footprint of the airport. We also encourage our airport partner companies to join through the GreenAirport program. Budapest Airport has already reached a balance in this field, we have become carbon neutral through a series of environmental innovations and now we have set out on the path of reducing our carbon footprint in the future, i.e. reducing our energy consumption,” says Hardy.

Nor is innovation seen as a threat to jobs. “On the contrary, we suffer from a shortage of qualified labor force, as do many other companies in Hungary,” says Hardy. He thinks retaining staff whose work has been automated will be the norm. “Airport work experience is highly valued in all possible fields and presently our greatest concern is retaining our experts rather than making anybody redundant,” he notes.  

This regular column, run in association with Audi, looks at how some of Hungary’s biggest companies involve innovation in their daily practice.

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