Roel Huinink currently serves as the President & CEO of JFKIAT, the company that manages Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He leads Terminal 4’s dedicated management team and is responsible for developing, communicating and executing strategic and tactical plans for T4. Mr. Huinink has a 15-year history with Royal Schiphol Group, where he held various management positions from 1999 to 2014. He served as an executive in the management board of Norwegian based Airport Retail Group.
1. You are coming up on one year as President and CEO for Terminal 4 at JFK International. What has been the accomplishment you are most proud of so far?
Since starting, I have put a strong focus on Safety, Customer Experience & Innovation. I am proud to see that incidents have reduced significantly, the T4 Airport Service Quality scores have improved to over 4 (out of 5), and we have implemented multiple new innovative solutions such as Aira Access and CLEAR.
2. Survey’s show that Airports in the U.S. are usually not on the top of the list. What are some things that U.S. airports can implement based on what works in Europe and Asia?
Best in class global airports do an exceptional job executing on the customer experience basics and creating a unique sense of place that’s memorable. The basics are key drivers of customer satisfaction and cannot be overlooked. They mandate a safe and clean environment where customers can seamlessly navigate the airport, experience unique shopping and dining and get help – on their terms. Coffee, Wi-Fi and clean restrooms go a long way with customers. Our teams align every day to ensure that we’re executing on the basics and as a result, we have seen continued increases in our Airport Service Quality (ASQ) scores.
3. Has LEED certification changed the way JFKIAT does business at JFK with sustainability in mind? What is on the horizon for continuing your effort?
Becoming the first and only air terminal in the United States to be awarded LEED certification has inspired us to continue to raise the bar for sustainability at T4. JFKIAT is committed to leading the industry by reducing our carbon footprint and operating a sustainable and healthy facility for our employees and the more than 21 million passengers that travel through the terminal each year.
T4’s comprehensive sustainability program demonstrates our continued commitment to sustainable growth and conservation of our natural resources. We have reduced our solid waste and increase our recycling to 53%, have installed water bottle filling stations in the terminal and continue to install LED lights. We aim for Platinum status – the highest LEED level – when we renew our LEED certification in 2022.
4. Workforce development and employee retention is always a challenge. What are some of the things that JFKIAT invests in for continued success for their employees?
Although we have roughly 12,000 employees at T4, there are just over 100 JFKIAT employees that manage the entire terminal and our annual 21 million passenger volume. We often say that we are a small company that does big things, and that says a lot about the dedication of our team and its commitment to operational excellence.
One of our strategic priorities is making T4 a great place to work as ranked by our employees. To that end, employee engagement and retention is critical and must demonstrated by our actions. We recently expanded our employee development program and are launching employee engagement surveys for both JFKIAT staff and all terminal employees. These voice of the employee results will guide our engagement efforts, including a new rewards and recognition program. Each summer we hold a terminal-wide employee appreciation event with food, games and music. It’s a fun event that allows all our employees to take a break and get together for some camaraderie. Last year we had nearly 5,000 employees attend and this year we expect more.
5. To make the travel experience more family friendly, many airports are developing special children’s areas as part of their facility. Is T4 thinking of, or planning to set up a separate play area for children?
Most of our customers are leisure travelers, and that includes families of all sizes. We know that the experience can be stressful for both parents and children and we have been actively studying airport best practices around children’s play areas. We’ve identified some exceptional examples and are looking to develop a play area as part of our terminal improvement plan.
We have committed ourselves to better serving all our customers. In May, we were the first terminal in the New York City area to offer Aira Access, a mobile app-enabled service for passengers who are blind or have low vision. We are also developing a gate-to-curb accessibility program for passengers who have autism.