Europe’s most efficient airport is in Copenhagen

The airports around Europe differ immensely in terms of how efficiently they are operated. The world’s leading aviation researchers have just named the most efficient airport in Europe, and the winner was Copenhagen Airport. The Danish airport is successfully automating services and using digital solutions and big data to enhance efficiency. The results are more satisfied customers and lower costs for the airlines. 

For many Danes travelling by air, their trip already begins the day before their flight takes off as they check in by mobile phone, so avoiding having to queue up at the airport’s check-in counters. If they have luggage to check in, they can also scan it and put it on the baggage belt themselves. Danish air travellers are among the most self-servicing in the world, in large part because Copenhagen Airport has been one of the most efficient airports at implementing new technologies.

Copenhagen Airport has for years focused on optimising and automating its operations, and has now won recognition for those efforts by being named the most efficient airport in Europe. The award is presented annually by leading international researchers and aviation experts at the Air Transport Research Society (ATRS). ATRS analyses and evaluates the efficiency of airports around the globe.

“This award recognises the work we do on a daily basis to ensure an efficiently operated airport that is attractive to travellers and airlines alike. We have a two-pronged strategy: We want to make it easier for passengers to pass through the airport, and we want to provide the optimal conditions for airlines to operate at the airport. Both prongs of our strategy are very much based on digital solutions, automation and utilisation of the vast amounts of data we collect,” explained Copenhagen Airport COO Kristian Durhuus.

Kristian Durhuus, driftsdirektør i Københavns Lufthavn

An important parameter in ATRS’ analysis is the ability to handle complexity. Compared with other airports, CPH has a very large proportion of international flights, and this requires highly efficient security, baggage handling and transferring.

“We maintain a very large, complex operation, yet we manage to do so using fewer employees than our peers. This is in large part due to our workforce of skilled and independent people who take on a great deal of responsibility,” said Kristian Durhuus.

Self-service equals greater passenger satisfaction

In recent years, Copenhagen Airport has invested in a number of digital automation solutions to make it easier for passengers to perform the tasks that air travel involves themselves:

“Most of our passengers have been checking in themselves for a number of years, and in the past few years many have started using the automatic baggage drop, as well. We were also among the first to adopt self-service scanning of boarding passes before security and at the boarding gates, and our most recent initiative is the introduction this June of automatic passport control. The self-service solutions save the airlines staff costs while also increasing traveller satisfaction,” explained Kristian Durhuss, also highlighting the airport’s insight into the airlines’ processes, passengers’ travel patterns and big data as a means of enhancing efficiency:

“Currently, we are investing heavily in expanding and improving the airport, and this year alone we are spending more than DKK 1 billion on expansion projects. These construction projects are based on advanced models and huge amounts of data, for example derived from some 100,000 passenger interviews annually and from analyses carried out jointly with airlines and ground-handling companies. These include analyses of how we can make it easier to use self-service solutions, analyses of how the ground-handling companies can better utilise data for their baggage team planning and reduce waiting times in the baggage reclaim area or analyses of how airlines can speed up boarding and deboarding of aircraft,” explained Kristian Duhuus.

Investments save airlines and handling companies millions

As the numerous companies operating in the airport area are key business partners, Copenhagen Airport is investing large sums to make it easier to carry on a business:

“Operating a business at an airport is complex, not least because of the security rules. For example, employees have to pass through time-consuming checkpoints several times in the course of their workday. The result is a lot of unnecessary idle time, costing the companies money. Last year, we therefore reorganised our critical security restricted area to better match the needs and day-to-day operations of the companies. This involved investing a triple-digit million kroner amount, but has significantly reduced the number of times a day that in particular handling company and airline employees pass through checkpoints, saving them millions of kroner,” said Kristiran Durhuus.

One of the key tasks of Copenhagen Airport is to attract new routes and more departures. To this end, efficiency plays a vital role:

“The airlines know that Scandinavia is generally a high-cost area. Having efficient operations is clearly one of the principal prerequisites for our ability to compete with other European airports in attracting new routes and airlines in the future. Being rated Europe’s most efficient airport is therefore extremely important,” said Kristian Durhuus.