17 September 2019
When you’re surrounded by technical experts what you need are specialist generalists to connect the dots. That’s according to Aurecon’s new Aviation Director – Planning & Strategy Erik Kriel who prides himself on his experience covering the full span of the aviation industry to provide holistic advice, calling on the global engineering, design, and advisory company’s project management, airfields and terminals professionals to deliver an airport outcome that is practical, personal and modern.
Mr Kriel said the growth in the aviation sector, the use of technology in the travel experience and the way the world is becoming more connected means that there is a generational driver that is changing the way we think about airports and needs the industry to think outside of the traditional view of what an airport is or was.
“The millennial traveller wants a different user experience than the previous generation so if we keep planning and designing to the traditional blueprint of recent decades we are not going to deliver airports that work for future requirements,” he said.
Mr Kriel believes that by understanding passenger behaviour and interrogating big sets of operational data we can rethink many traditional barriers that have been in place in the past.
“I strongly expect that through new technologies such as biometrics and our ever-improved understanding of how people behave in airports you can come up with new and much more efficient operational concepts, to the benefit of passengers and airlines alike. This is increasingly becoming possible through interrogating the wealth of operational data that airports and airlines hold,” he said.
Mr Kriel has more than two decades of experience as an airport development planner and strategist, including terminal design, airport master planning, concept designs, capital expenditure planning and airline consultation.
He has led consultancy teams in Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa. Previously, Mr Kriel headed Airport Planning for the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), where he was extensively involved with various master plan projects at ACSA’s local airports, as well as their overseas operated airports. He has worked at some of the largest hub airports in the world, including Dubai and Hong Kong as well as some of the most economically sensitive such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In recent years, he was Aviation Lead Consultant on several Australian airport planning projects, including Aviation Planning Project Manager for Western Sydney Airport with Landrum & Brown.
Aurecon’s Global Client Director for Aviation Stephen Symons said the business continues to diversify its aviation offerings and Mr Kriel brings a wealth of knowledge and skills that will assist its clients in making investment decisions at a macro level.
“He brings a wealth of global knowledge that is strategically focused and high level, and this combined with both our aviation and other core infrastructure skills embedded within Aurecon brings increasingly sophisticated offerings in the rapidly changing aviation sector,” Mr Symons said.
“We are excited to have Erik join our team as we continue our journey of providing alternative offerings to the aviation sector.”
A broader view is needed to help horizontally integrate the aviation industry for a new generation of passenger and airlines
Mr Kriel believes there’s a need to horizontally integrate in the aviation sector: “People tend to define the aviation project lifecycle in infrastructure terms – the built environment. This creates the false impression that once the infrastructure has been built the lifecycle has ended,” he said.
“In reality, there’s a repeating lifecycle – a total value cycle around the airport. It includes the ongoing appreciation and refinement of strategic objectives, placing operational and infrastructure responses within well-arranged frameworks and being in a position to appropriately trigger those responses.
“I’m excited to help our clients see opportunities outside of just developing infrastructure. Aurecon is combining skills across program advisory, infrastructure advisory and aviation planning and bringing all these together for the aviation sector.”
Mr Kriel will help advise Aurecon’s global aviation clients on right-sizing their investments – both in terms of the physical size and timing of the asset investment but also in terms of improved passenger and airline experience.
“I enjoy taking the wider perspective, joining dots across disciplines and capabilities,” Mr Kriel said.
“My aim is to not get drawn into the depth of the detail but to take a broad view of an airport’s attributes. Instead of becoming a deep technical matter expert, and there are so many in Aurecon, I strive to bring seemingly unconnected perspectives together.”
Having worked both operator and consultant side for airports in both emergent and developing economies Mr Kriel appreciates the socio-economic, cultural and institutional drivers that sit behind airports and guide their strategic planning needs.
“I don’t think that the future of aviation lies only in the infrastructural perspective – it lies in a much broader more integrated view. Instead of trying to just build the right asset you need to be able to know how to do the right thing at the right time,” he said.