All eyes are on London Luton Airport in the aviation world, following the December 2018 opening of its upgraded terminal which has benefited from a £160 million re-development investment – the biggest in the airport’s 80-year history. With annual capacity expanded by 50 percent, London Luton Airport expects to welcome 18 million passengers a year by 2020 – and footfall has already increased by 35% since the work began. Digitisation is now critical to the operations of a modern day airport – whether for keeping passengers informed with real time information about their flights, or driving additional revenues by attracting premium advertisers who are looking to reach a captive audience. Upon the direction of integration partner SPC Group, a professional AV solution provider with extensive DOOH and airport experience, London Luton Airport selected manufacturer of high quality LED displays, Absen, to deliver its digital display solutions.
Jon Swain, Director at SPC Group, discussed how the airport arrived at installing a digital solution. “The airport is always looking for ways to improve the customer experience – both for the passengers who use the terminal but also advertising partners who generate revenue. This premise is really what drove the desire to install digital display solutions which would enable the airport to relay information with increased speed and clarity, and also provide advertisers with a more impactful way to deliver their brand messages.”
It is a space in which Absen has arguably established itself as a leader, with its digital display solutions now installed in some of the world’s major airports. As Ross Burling, Business Development Manager at Absen Europe, notes: “This experience, together with the continuous feedback loop we have established with integrator and airport customers, have been fed into our product development pipeline to ensure that our products are at the cutting-edge and exceed the requirements and expectations of today’s and tomorrow’s demanding airport environment.”
From the end client perspective, Absen has a lot to offer. Matt Mullen, Passenger Environment Manager at London Luton Airport remarks: “As part of LLA’s £160m transformation to put the customer at the centre of everything we do, LLA wanted the best visual displays to help inform our customers at key points in their journey through the terminal. We recognised that advertising and information often compete for the same locations, therefore combining these into a single, bespoke MEGAFID (mega flight information display) solution best served the requirements. SPC Group, with their experience of what is required for optimal viewing, installation and maintenance of such large, stunning displays across the terminal, assisted with all decisions.”
SPC Group chose to deploy the Absen N4, designed specifically for airport environments, in a number of locations throughout the terminal. Stand-out features such as front installation and service, an ultra slim panel (less than 6cm), advanced monitoring, image quality, and the uniformity and consistency of the image all set the N4 apart and make it perfectly suited to the modern airport environment. Luton has joined international airports in Turkey (Istanbul), Italy (Rome, Venice), Australia (Sydney, Brisbane), New Zealand (Auckland), Norway (Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim), Finland (Helsinki) and tens of locations in the US which all boast Absen solutions, changing the airport landscape beyond recognition with performance which goes above and beyond a standard LED panel.
“LED displays were the only viable option due to the size requirements and the ambient brightness. We conducted a thorough demonstration of various products, set up in scenarios which allowed for different distances of viewing. Absen came out on top – providing great quality and maintainability for the best value for money” says Swain on the key factors in the decision-making process.
A 7×4 N4 display is stationed at the entrance to the baggage hall, and hosts advertising for onward travel providers such as coaches and trains. A second N4 display in a 11×4 configuration is installed at the entrance to the international departures lounge, and rotates through flight departure information across 4×4 on the left hand side of the screen while the remainder is used for advertising which is relayed by the airport’s partner. At the North end of the international departures lounge above Hawker Bar, a further set up of 9×5 N4 also stages advertising run by the airport’s partner.
Meanwhile, a 9×4 A2725 7.52sqm screen (2.5mm pitch) is positioned at landside arrivals, featuring partner-run advertising and flight arrivals information displayed over 2×4 panels. Featuring high brightness, high contrast and outstanding image quality, this indoor screen was the perfect solution for this particular location.
An installation on this scale in a challenging 24/7 365 environment required delicate planning and close management, in addition to the need for ease of ongoing operation and maintenance. Swain elaborates: “Each site installation was completed within a week. Wall strengthening was required in all cases and in two instances the screens are installed at a very high level. Due to passenger numbers the wall installations were conducted through the night to minimize airport disruption. The screens are extremely intuitive and easy to operate, and the airport is safe in the knowledge that any issues are covered by our comprehensive maintenance programme and we carry a full complement of spares to minimize downtime.”
The digital screens make a key contribution to the overall ambiance of the new terminal, which also features 30 new shops, more than 1000 extra seats, a new boarding pier and an expanded security search area. Swain continues: “Having the screens in situ affords the airport a great deal of flexibility in how it delivers messages to passengers making their way through the terminal – content can easily be switched in or out as required, and is delivered in an effective and impactful way which improves the overall customer experience. In an age where international travel is prolific and people have so much choice, today’s airports have to offer the latest technology in order to compete now and in the future.”
Reflecting on the contribution the screens have made so far, Mullen adds: “Having had the Absen LED display walls for just over two months, we are pleased with the brightness and clarity of the displays. Whether they are showing important airport information or advertising, they are undoubtedly a great improvement to our customers’ experience at London Luton Airport, we are delighted.”
Burling concludes: “At Absen we have really blazed a trail when it comes to developing technologies which sit perfectly in the airport environment. We feel we bring a truly differentiated product offering as a result of our strategic focus on working with the airport segment, and take our responsibility to continually innovate and deliver unrivalled quality and performance very seriously. We are thrilled that our digital display solutions take centre stage in London Luton Airport’s ambitious re-development.”