London, 22nd April 2015
It is amazing for some time now to observe almost all the airports that you visit have incorporated this trend of subduing the passengers with duty-free shops interposed in a very disputable way with the passage of the passengers who go towards their boarding gates.
It has not been many years since I had the opportunity to take part in the design and configuration of the commercial areas of what was going to be new T4 in Barajas, and we always knew the important thing that the sales momentum is in these businesses.
But they were not yet times to allow anything else beyond a good frontal placement or a sufficient length of shop window in the most frequented circulation areas. But since then, we have seen how Aena in Spain, but systematically also the rest of the big companies of exploitation of airports, they have succumbed to the temptation and have decided to introduce directly to the whole flow of passengers coming from the security or passports controls inside the shops. Forcing sometimes, not only the burden of the interposed goods but forcing sometimes to long run across.
The last remodelings of the T4, but also Malaga, Palma and many different in Spain, the different terminal of Heathrow or Gatwick, the last amazing remodeling of Lisbon, Fiumicino, Munich or Frankfurt have been falling inexorably to the trend, and they all tempt the sale istanding in the way without any respect of all the users passengers.
I do not believe that this is a formula with long-term future We already know that the airports have discovered that the commercial income can and must overcome the strictly aeronautical ones. And this is not going to change. But it does not seem to be reasonable that it is at the current price. We will see progressively reorganize the duty-free areas to situations with good exhibition and easy access, but respecting clear areas of circulation and out of the commercial area in order that the passengers who do not wish it should not circulate along them.
After all this trend reminds me the one that we had in some moment in the shopping centres, where, for assuring good circulations and flows in front of increasing lengths of mall, we ended up by placing remote stairs and communication hearts, forcing unnecessarily the tours. Its following malfunction demonstrated that the confort an the satisfaction of the client should take priority over these excesses.