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Airports are part of the tourist landscape and are places where many travelers pass through. Their environmental impact is well known, but a company that joined us wants to reduce it on its own scale. Kamelia Pourzand, the creator of Expert’Air, tells us about her desire to make airport services more sustainable.

Not being able to reach certain continents otherwise, the airport remains an essential place to go on vacations. However, it can be a source of stress for many travelers. Indeed, many uncertainties can make you feel dizzy. With the stress of the big departure, flight delays, luggage lost, unclear boarding conditions, confusion between digital ticket and paper withdrawal, the trip can easily become a nightmare.

Flockeo encourages above all to travel thanks to soft mobilities such as the ones we talk about in many of our “inspiration” articles (bicycle, train…). However, we care about valuing the positive initiatives which tend towards a more sustainable tourism for tomorrow. We support tourism actors who are gradually integrating a sustainable perspective into their activity. In the airports, we met Kamelia Pourzand, who has been personally committed to the environmental cause for a long time. Her company Expert’Air offers an alternative to traditional forms of assistance for flights. She presents it to us.

Expert’Air: a link between the interfaces of the different airport actors

Expert’Air offers its airport assistance services. Its mission is to alleviate all the difficulties encountered by passengers and to represent the tour operator or the travel agency having mandated their services. For her, providing assistance to passengers means being at the crossroads of the major players. This versatility demonstrates both the complexity of an activity often little known to the general public but also its diversity. Indeed, it is a link between the airline, the tour operator or the travel agency, the passenger and the airport infrastructures.

In recent years, the process to the boarding gate has become much more complex. Expert’Air facilitates the passenger’s journey to the airport, the check-in and boarding procedures. In order to avoid the costly and polluting multiplication of empty planes, part of their activity is the optimization and filling of flights. Moreover, in case of delay, Kamelia and her team take care of the coordination with the receptive parties at destination. They optimize the handling of passengers in case of flight delay or cancellation at any time of the day or night.

Most of Expert’Air’s business is focused on managing charter flights to guide passengers. But using her experience with travelers, Kamelia saw the changes in the airports and the increasing distress of passengers. She decided to bring this issue back to the forefront of Expert’air’s missions with a unique perspective on the situation.

Ecological awareness and the airport world, Expert’air’s approach

Eco-responsible initiatives still struggle to make a place in this dematerialized environment, with few helping hands. The originality of Kamelia’s personal and professional approach makes sense.

With the experience acquired on three different continents, Kamelia has been able to project a different perspective on the French airport landscape. In particular, her discovery of different cultures is depicted in her ability to listen and understand the needs and constraints of each. As a company director for 20 years, she is above all a woman committed to her personal life, with a philosophy that she also tries to communicate through her organization. In particular, her scientific studies have allowed her to develop the necessary rigor. Her atypical career path has given her the advantage of being very reactive and always considering several solutions in case of difficulties or unexpected events. These are essential elements in the field of assistance.

I recognize that progress has advanced the world in some aspects but some progress are not in the direction of ecology

Moreover, Kamelia is not only a classic expert on the airport world. Sensitive to environmental issues, she wishes to instill them within her professional approach. In fact, Kamelia has been sorting her waste for over 25 years, even before it was democratized in France. She consumes organic and local products and lives in one of the few houses made of recycled cardboard. This ecological awareness surely has its influence on her conception of assistance, which still does not really integrate these issues.

In the airport field, sustainable development is still timid. The method of small steps allows for the gradual transformation of the sector through individual choices. On her own scale, Kamelia emphasizes the need to optimize the filling of aircraft and consequently reduce the carbon footprint of air transport. Let’s remember that, if all flights were optimized, there would be a decrease of 10% of total emissions. We can also underline the possibility of replacing charter flights with optimal fill rates and direct routes by low-cost companies and connections.

Another example can be the reduction of paper used in the production of air tickets. Expert’Air is notably at the initiative of an 80% reduction of paper at the counters where it was cooperating with the first tour operators. The printing of sheets was sometimes 300 pages, while the passengers already had the convocation. She succeeded in imposing the idea of promoting at the counter the verification of conformity and the “OK TO BOARD” stamping with the first tour operators. And this idea finally became widespread.

The role of small players in the implementation of environmental actions at the airport

If she does not have the superpower to change the airline landscape, she strongly believes in the potential of small players to impact the global scheme.

Indeed, in addition to the pollution linked to the discharge of kerosene, the growth of flights causes various other problems for the environment. Kamelia sees this on a daily basis and this observation motivates her approach. For example, charter flights which have been slowly replaced by low-cost flights taking less and less into account the optimization of the aircraft is a real problem. Passengers see their financial interest and do not always choose the optimal option. Thus, the multiplication of almost empty flights is becoming widespread. Indeed, a lower price for a trip also has a higher cost for the environment.

Even though she doesn’t think she can succeed in directly impacting the collective consciousness, she can nevertheless act on her scale. Various actions are visible in her approach, such as ensuring proper check-in procedures.

It has also sought to unite her teams around shared values that she holds dear. This can be seen in the selection process when joining Expert’Air. Another essential criterion is the human aspect and the sense of service, to go to the end of the process. Beyond the procedures, the priority is to allow all the passengers to leave serenely, without any problem and with good supervision.

A new look on the passengers’ journey

Kamelia’s journey through the hotline she worked for allowed her to observe the general transformation of the airport system over a decade. She also sensed a growing feverishness of the passengers she was communicating with in the face of an increasingly complex process. She used her experience to better think her journey thanks to an adapted assistance.

These transformations can be seen in the direct decrease in charters and the changes in the route to the boarding gate. This is thought of as a consumer journey above all and not in the interest of simplifying the traveler’s experience. Check-in and boarding procedures are sometimes obscure and deliberate. Other transformations are visible in the organization of airports, which are divided between national and international terminals. On the other hand, between regular airlines and low cost hangars. 

A passenger’s journey does not begin at the hotel with the comfort of his room. The journey starts from the moment he leaves home and to reach his destination he needs guarantees.

Airports have grown in terms of surface and capacity, but the road to vacations can sometimes seem full of pitfalls. Especially in a context where there is less and less tolerance for formalities. For example, when checking in your own luggage, if you go over the weight limit, even if it’s only a small amount, and you don’t pay by credit card, the conveyor belt stands still.

And this distress is reinforced by the idea that the booking systems themselves are not evolving in this direction. In fact, they do not yet include assistance proposals.

But not all travelers are experts in passenger rights and this type of service can be more helpful than they could imagine. For example, in case of lost luggage, a “first aid kit” often refused by passengers actually covers the proposal of a 250-euro check. What many travelers are unaware of.

Putting Human back in a dematerialized and dehumanized space

Synonymous with luxury only for a social elite in the 1970s, air travel has now become widely spread. And this happened with the advent of low cost in the 2010s. This share of the aviation market represented nearly half a billion seats in 2019. But with such an increase, airports had to reinvent themselves and have seen the passenger journey become more complex. It also became dematerialized. While it seems to be accessible to more and more travelers, its increasing complexity distorts the accessibility issue. Not everyone has the skills to access their plane from the check-in desk, and there are fewer and fewer physical helping hands.

Over the last 20 years, airports have undergone an evolution that has led to changes in the general methods of managing and handling passengers. Behind the smiles of the stewardesses and the warming scent of coffee in the early morning, the airport has become an anxiety-provoking environment. We leave home with the excitement of the adventure that awaits us, but we begin this journey with formalities, increasingly complex check-in procedures, queues, and sometimes problems related to the booking, delay or cancellation of flights. The absence of a human presence to facilitate these procedures and to reach the door of one’s vacation with peace of mind convinced Kamelia to embark on this adventure.

Her mission: put the human element back into the airport with an expert who will be your point of contact throughout your journey in this space. This will allow you to apprehend the rest of the adventure with serenity, visibility, security and a free mind.

This idea comes from Kamelia’s thought: that the journey begins at the entrance hall. A place of transit in which everyone seems to be in a hurry and incognito, with strict rules and very limited time to act in case of problems. It is necessary to have a perfect knowledge of everyone’s role and rights in order to effectively address the right person in this limited time to solve your problems. This is quite complex for travelers who want to plan their own trip at every stage. It’s a shame to put so much effort into planning a trip and not get there as you imagined. And even before the lobby, the trip is designed in the heads behind the screen. It seems crazy to give passengers the choice of insurance but not assistance to travel with a lighter mind. Moreover, most people don’t even know that it exists.

In order to achieve this goal, it is important to rethink the human relationship within these spaces and to offer helping hands thanks to sensitive experts. And this is to go beyond procedures and fully dedicate ourselves to the passengers’ well-being, which should prevail at the heart of the services offered.

So, in the aseptic space that airports have become over time, rethinking the passenger-consumer journey can only last if the human aspect and the convergence of essential values prevail.

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