There has to be a vision for integrating the airport into the city’s development from an administrative viewpoint.
Local citizens also have to do their bit by accepting an avid interest in the growth and voicing the requirement for a world-class airport
landing in Hong Kong at 9.10 am cleared immigration, freshened up, transformed into my work suit, and completed it to the 10 am client meeting with ten minutes to limit. (I had taken the 1.15 am flight from Mumbai, had a good night’s sleep, and had a great breakfast in flight).
Behind a whole day’s workshop, I left for the airport at 5.15 pm, checked in, cleared immigration, grabbed a bowl of barbecued chicken on steamed rice, spent an hour picking up stuff for the family and chocolates for the team, and then got onto the return flight at 7.45 pm. I was back in Mumbai by midnight.
- What would have made the travel perfect was if I could have just taken a cab home. But I live in Pune and there were no direct flights out to Hong Kong then (still aren’t). So, I had to factor in two four-hour road trips each time I flew in or out of the country.
Between 2006 and 2016, I used to travel repeatedly to Hong Kong for work. On most visits, I stayed at a business hotel in the nearby town of Tung Chung, which was 10 minutes by cab (15 minutes by bus). (I have also stayed at the airport hotel within the airport complex.) The client offices were usually mid-way between the airport and township.
Actually, when I had clients in town (Kowloon or Hong Kong island or even further), it wasn’t a hassle because the metro rail is super-fast and the bus service was clockwork. I always felt as if I was part of a real-life lego set - life is that efficient in Hong Kong.
Every third day, I used to take a bus or cab into the airport to visit the retail shops, browse the book shops, the aviation museum, or eat at one of the many local food joints that were part of the airport.
Hong Kong airport is a social destination and
Hong Kong airport is a social destination and locals and travelers often shop, meet for drinks, or eat at the airport – the entire complex is planned to invite people to interact with the airport, with outlets accessible to everyone and then some outlets can be accessed only by those with a boarding pass. One used to be able to walk in and out of the airport, window shop, grab a drink or a bite and go back home.
That’s the kind of airport I hope we get in our city when they eventually decide to build the new one in Purandar taluka of Pune district. I love the current Pune airport because this is my home town and I love flying into the quaint, cute airport. My happiest trips overseas were when Jet Airways ran flights to Abu Dhabi and Singapore, SpiceJet had a Pune-Sharjah and Lufthansa flew to Frankfurt.
- Modern airports (up till the 1990s) have contributed to a city when the airport has been an integral part of the city’s economic, social and cultural life, its aspirations, and its future. We are now in the digital age and the emerging megacities are being redesigned around connectivity to the extent that the definition of megacities is all about the volume of people and cargo and services that the city handles and the number of other cities it is related to.
Hong Kong, Singapore, Doha, and Dubai are
Hong Kong, Singapore, Doha, and Dubai are prime examples in Asia and the Middle East where the airports are airport cities in themselves with an entire ecosystem that can be open to non-flyers and that contributes significantly to the local economy.
The Hong Kong airport employs more than 78,000 people and it has a well-developed conference, exhibition, retail, and entertainment complex which is a destination by itself, apart from being a hub for road and ferry connectivity to Macau and mainland China.
There are several examples of such airport ecosystems across the world with varying degrees of public access, keeping and monitoring the actual safety risks in mind.
- Successful flight tests from biofuel aces plane and helicopter
- Hong Kong pilots buckle under “zero COVID” policy
In current years, several airports in the USA have been experimenting with not just public access areas but public access beyond security checkpoints as well. Pittsburgh international airport was the first to open to non-travelers in 2017 under what is called ‘Terminal Tourism.’
The primary statement here is that there has to be a concept for integrating the airport into the city’s growth from an administrative viewpoint.
Further, there has to be a passionate and knowledgeable entity driving the vision for the airport’s design and growth, in collaboration with private entities and citizens with some government request so that it becomes a matter of city, state, and nation-building.
Towards such an end, as far as Pune is concerned, I feel that local citizens have to do their bit by taking an avid interest in the development and voicing the need for a world-class aspirational airport for starters. We are already on the Smart City road map. Why not expand the horizon to think global while connecting local to regional and creating new opportunities?
Stay updated with Aviationa2z.com
source: Hindustan times