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Interview with Ignacio Castejón, Great Hall Partners

 

Ignacio Castejón is CEO Great Hall Partners and Project Director Corporate Development and M&A Ferrovial Aeropuertos.

“We believe that the airports of the future will be those that are best adapted to their environment and to the profile of their passengers, in a context in which sustainability is increasingly important”.

 

Ferrovial Aeropuertos, the Great Hall Partners consortium leader, is remodelling and commercially exploiting Jeppesen Terminal at Denver Airport – the sixth busiest airport in the USA. But exactly what type of remodelling will take place?

The project includes construction and remodelling work to the tune of US$650 million, over a surface area of over 70,000 square metres. Among other actions, we plan to develop new shopping and dining areas and a new checking area, relocate and expand security areas, and improve access to the terminal, with the aim of expanding its retail offer, improving passenger traffic flows, and, more generally, optimising its space and increasing its efficiency.

 

This is the first airport contract of the Ferrovial Group’s subsidiary in the United States, where it already operates in other divisions. What does entering this sector mean for the Spanish company?

Having a first project in progress in the United States, and on this scale, positions us in a market whose airport sector is increasingly encouraged towards more public-private partnership projects, due to the large investment requirements of its network. Another of our main assets when tendering for projects such as this one at Denver Airport, or for those in airports as important as JFK or LaGuardia, is the Ferrovial Group’s solid track record in the United States: this is a strategic market for our company that represents 13.4% of our turnover, as well as a team of more than 3,600 professionals.

 

The project is known as Great Hall. What will improve in the user experience and the airport itself, when the planned technological improvements are implemented?

Under the premise that the user experience must be at the centre of airport management, all the interventions that we anticipate carrying out at Denver Airport are aimed at improving this in one way or another. The reform of the access to the terminal, for example, will improve the flow of passenger and visitor traffic. The remodelling of the access controls will expedite the check in process and will make it even more secure. And the expansion of the shopping area will provide more and better quality shopping, dining and leisure options. All this, of course, in a terminal with greater capacity, and therefore in a position to offer a better service to a greater number of passengers when compared to its previous format.

 

What is the concept of the airport of the future that Great Hall Partners is working with?

At Ferrovial Aeropuertos we believe that the airports of the future will be those that are best adapted to their environment and to the profile of their passengers, in a context in which sustainability is increasingly important for all types of businesses, and where consumers have more choices than ever before and have become much more demanding.

In the case of Denver, we are committed to a greater use of renewable energy, to simplifying the wayfinding inspired in the architecture of the airport itself, which is characterized by its simple lines, and to using technology not as an end in itself, but rather to place it in service to a better passenger experience – both at the front-end, as well as, for example, using data analysis to optimize the business income: a win-win for both the airport and its users.

 

Great Hall is a project that is developed under a public-private partnership, a model that seems to be gaining presence in the U.S., especially in the airport sector. What are the advantages of this type of collaboration, known by its acronym as PPP (Public-Private Partnership) or P3?

In the specific context of the American airport sector, the network’s investment needs make this type of public-private partnership essential, but the benefits go beyond providing greater financial muscle. In the first place, it allows the public sector to reduce its exposure to the risks inherent in airport activity (financial, labour, environmental, etc.). And, secondly, it transfers the management of this type of asset to experienced private partners who are ready to deploy international best practice and the latest technology in the airports.

 

Can we talk at the international level of the existence of a “Spanish Brand” in terms of design and engineering in the airport sector?

Without a doubt, Spain has a long history in aerospace, and, in particular, in the airport sector. In our case, we perceive the strength of this brand on our direct competitors in tender processes around the world, but also on a whole network of partners (architecture studios, engineering and consultancy firms…) that combine the proximity of being based in our country with the international prestige required and the ability to assist us in complex projects in any corner of the world.

 

 

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09/04/2018

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