By Tunde Obileye
The maintenance of an airport is of utmost importance as the end-users expect a clean, comfortable and well-kept environment. From the Check-in counters, food courts, ticketing desks and other areas of the airport, those responsible for maintaining the airport must exceed expectations of the passengers, employees and visitors to the airport. With the sensitive nature of air travel and security, the maintenance team must be managed by a highly trained and competent facilities manager to safeguard the wellbeing of those who make use of the airport in whatever capacity. Safety and cleanliness are intertwined for this purpose.
International airports are the face of a country and its appearance should be taken seriously. However, the sheer volume of people and activities in the terminal building creates high demand, detailed work and tight time frames. Making conscious efforts to achieve the required level of cleaning and maintenance can be challenging. This is where a facilities management company comes in. Getting an experienced facilities management company that provides flexible and responsive cleaning and maintenance service is vital to creating a safe and clean travel environment for the end users.
There is a need for a tailored high impact program to meet the dynamic and ever changing needs of end users. This program must also be flexible to allow for easy adjustment to services as required to help control cost and manage expectation. From a leaking roof during the raining season, power outage, slippery floor and faulty escalators as the case may be, the potential risk to end users in such circumstances is so high that failure to put in place a robust planned and preventative maintenance program may lead to serious consequences including loss of business and revenue for business owners operating within the airport environment and the aviation industry.
To meet quality standards and best practices, and ensure dedication to the various maintenance activities at airports, a highly skilled team capable to being responsive and using latest technology should be the target of those who operate airports. The size of an airport,whether small or big, should not make a difference to the level of maintenance required. Training is an important component of the facilities maintenance and management system. All those involved in the day to day maintenance must have the required training in order to ensure appropriate and regular maintenance takes place.
A good method of assessing the performance of those responsible for maintaining the airport and determining the needs of end users is to get feedback from them on a regular basis. Suggestions and ideas may also be requested. This will assist the facilities manager and his team in knowing how and when to deploy resources particularly to critical areas such as toilets and food courts where failure to provide high level of maintenance may lead to outbreak of various diseases.
One critical point to also note is that security challenges around the world have led to very tight security measures at airports which have had psychological impact on users of airports. The resulting effect on these airport users requires that the airport environment must not further compound the stress level instead should provide comfort through the provision of amenities and a seamless operation.
Many airports in Africa are yet to achieve the globally acceptable standards but improvement is possible when the right approach is taken and the interests of all stakeholders are considered.
In concluding, a well maintained airport will not only benefit the end users but increase revenue through the business activities within the airport environment.
Tunde Obileye is a facilities management expert and certified member of British Institute of Facilities Management. He is also the MD/CEO of Great Heights Property & Facilities Management Ltd with presence in Nigeria and East Africa.