Westfield wants to turn more airports into upscale shopping malls

By Chris Chamberlin, November 12 2015
Westfield wants to turn more airports into upscale shopping malls

Retail giant Westfield has its sights set on turning many of the world’s airports into upscale shopping environments as the company seeks to build on its success story at Los Angeles' Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Countless Australian travellers will have passed through TBIT at LAX – the terminal used by Qantas and Virgin Australia, among others – which underwent a facelift in conjunction with Westfield in 2013 and now feels like more of a classy brand mall than a concrete-clad airport terminal.

But this doesn't mean turning every terminal into the same template-driven identikit mall.

"The last thing (travellers) leave with is not a ubiquitous mall" explains Westfield Executive Vice President Dominic Lowe. "Not an airport that looks like every other airport – they leave with the taste of the city they are in."

That's certainly the case with TBIT, where massive video screens and other installation art inside the terminal nods to the early days of Hollywood.

The company's Westfield Airports division also wants to encourage more focus on the entire passenger experience from check-in through to take-off.

Travellers “want a seamless journey, one that's connected physically and digitally, (and) one that's personalised to reduce the uncertainty, stress and tension today's air travellers face," Lowe continues.

With that in mind, the experience after clearing security and while travellers await their flight needs to look beyond simply overloading the terminal with shops, and rather take heed of the local city and environment to bring about a unique mix and a memorable journey.

Beyond TBIT, Westfield is now working on upgrades for Los Angeles' Terminals 1, 2 and 6 with new amenities, retail and dining options, and is active at the airports of other major cities including New York, Chicago and Texas.

Westfield’s Terminal 2 design includes "a meandering retail and duty-free hub that connects to a dining terrace" and an open, flowing dining and shopping district dubbed The Strand.

At Terminal 6 it's all about LA's Sunset Boulevard, with the aim of "replicating the experience of traveling along Sunset Blvd. from downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Coast Highway."

Also read: Virgin Australia's Brisbane Airport terminal transformation

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

I guess this is the wrong audience to ask because most of us head straight to a lounge, but do people actually shop at airports? Other than duty free liquor I can't remember the last time I bought anything from an airport because I just think RIP OFF.

05 Dec 2013

Total posts 36

When I was there in July last year, I found the shops and layout of TBIT to be light, spacious and tastefully fitted out.  The products avialble were bargains as well!! That said, it was when the Aussie wasn't anywhere near as woefully bad as it is now.

05 Jan 2014

Total posts 26

Well I guess its nice to window shop especially if your flight is delayed a few hours to stretch your legs and give your liver a break from the free flowing champagne. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

I personally don't except for a small booze run when I get home. Personally, shopping at the airport is inconvenient as my bags are packed and most likely checked in at that stage so anything I buy becomes carry on.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

It's not designed for people like us. It's designed for the people whose main problems in life are:

a) Too much money, and

b) Not enough time to buy all the tacky brand-name merchandise that they want.

There aren't that many of those people, but they all come through LAX every now and then, and if you can sell each one a bag with a giant GUCCI logo for a thousand-buck profit then you've justified the existence of the whole Westfield.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 7

I don't, but my wife loves heading to the shops. I went to a conference a couple of years ago and DFS spoke about the captive audience at airports. Think about the audience at airports; people holidaying (spending money they wouldn't normally when at home), business travellers (buying gifts for partners/kids stuck at home), luxury travellers (making GST/VAT Free purchases).

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

spose all that space has to be filled with something...it may as well be a shopping mall, which probably gets the best 'return on investment' than any other 'space fillers'. It's very valuable 'floor space', and retail is the best 'profit' option.  You do notice that if a particular 'outlet' doesn't perform well, it will be quickly replaced by another!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 465

I personally don't shop at the airports unless I've (yet again) forgotten my US adapters...I agree with smit - I don't see the value - I don't think duty free grog is even worth it!

My company has tried to supply tech products to airport retailers like Tech 2 Go but their margin expectations are extraordinary due to the high cost to operate - can't see how Westfield is going to fix that! 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Oct 2015

Total posts 2

Based on sheer volumes - there are more economy class travellers than there are Business and First. To kit out a terminal with high end luxury brands might be aesthetically pleasing but it does alienate the majority of the people who fly. Selling that Gucci handbag with a 1000% mark-up will mean the stores will be profitable enough to stay open which is great for them. What then happens with the everyday middle class and lower middle class working people who would like to purchase durable/affordable products without having to pay the tax? LCC's made it possible for most people to travel who normally wouldn't be able to. Airports have always been horrendously expensive for food and drink and now even the basic products are being phased out. This news of luxury brands in airports is both good and bad. Sigh

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 954

The only thing I buy in airports is local cash from a ForEx counter and food/drink in a port where I have no lounge access.

The last thing I want is a forced walk through duty free shops like at SYD, MEL, LHR, etc.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 2

For me it's not so much about the duty free (but marked-up) shopping but the upgraded amenities (toilets, food & drink options, things that the average economy passenger is looking forward to after a 14 hour flight) that come with these shopping-centre-style outfits. 

Annoying Gucci handbags or not, spend one minute in TBIT and it's worlds apart from the other LAX terminals. Even when I fly in with Delta and am technically meant to stay in the delta terminal (2 i think), i run over to TBIT to feel like I'm not in a dirty third world airport.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 954

DL is in T5 at LAX.

All terminals at LAX are open to any same day LAX departing pax. It does not matter what terminal you depart from.

LAWA had TSA open it to more then just same terminal pax months ago (so that they could get more people going to the shops in TBIT....)

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 2

For me it's not so much about the duty free (but marked-up) shopping but the upgraded amenities (toilets, food & drink options, things that the average economy passenger is looking forward to after a 14 hour flight) that come with these shopping-centre-style outfits. 

Annoying Gucci handbags or not, spend one minute in TBIT and it's worlds apart from the other LAX terminals. Even when I fly in with Delta and am technically meant to stay in the delta terminal (2 i think), i run over to TBIT to feel like I'm not in a dirty third world airport.


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