After a bleak year due to the global travel restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020, airports are expected to be humming with activity again in 2021 with a surge in passengers travelling across the borders.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has predicted global revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) improving by 50 per cent with passenger numbers forecast to grow to 2.8 billion - with the opening of borders by mid-2021 - one billion more travellers than in 2020. Representing 290 airlines or 82 per cent of total global air traffic, it remarked that people have not lost their desire to travel and travel rebounded where barriers have been removed. It had been projected earlier that Arabian Gulf airports will be handling 450 million passengers a year once the travel returns to 2019 levels.
Reed Exhibitions Middle East, organisers of the Airport Show, the world’s leading airport industry B2B platform has rescheduled the event’s 20th edition in Dubai for three days from 24th May at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). The organisers have said that the airport industry, after a year of unprecedented strain, challenges and changes, has a renewed sense of optimism as it enters 2021 with traffic gradually picking up as more travel corridors are established between important routes. As the airports are getting themselves ready and resetting themselves for the post-pandemic influx of travellers, they have started increasingly looking at the latest solutions and technologies to ensure safer travel until 2025 – and even beyond.
To be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, Airport Show-2021 will see the top decision-makers of key airports from across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) making their way to Dubai to search for new products and services for their facilities. The 2021 show is planned to be held across 11000 square metres of exhibition space with exhibitors and participants from over 50 countries expected. It will have two co-located events: Global Airport Leaders Forum (GALF) and ATC Forum, taking place for the sixth and third year respectively. Two new conferences have also been added to GALF: Airport Passengers’ Experience and Airport Digital Transformation.
Ibrahim Ahli, Deputy CEO of Dubai Air Navigation Services (dans) which is the sole handler of air traffic movements at Dubai International Airport, the world’s number one airport for international travellers for the seventh consecutive year, said, “Portraying the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, that aims at making Dubai an airport for the world, we are adopting and implementing special strategic and future projects for the aviation sector which will promote the continuation in handling air traffic efficiently even during the challenging times of coronavirus pandemic. dans is fully equipped to utilise up-to-date technology to build synergy with our aviation and related stakeholders in overcoming challenges and fulfil the Emirate’s vision in utilizing innovative technologies to remain a hub of choice for passengers by offering the best services.”
He added, “We are working to enhance the efficiency of operations and carrying out systems upgrade for the safety and security of aircraft movements, much before the demand gathers further momentum. dans will continue improvising procedures, services and facilities to remain an ideal player today – and even in tomorrow’s aviation industry. The Airport Show will enable aviation professionals to gain ringside views of newer technologies and digitisation for a greater sweeping impact. Now and in the future, the Aviation service sector is set to proactively and extensively work smarter and have a more future-oriented outlook. Given the prevailing conditions across the world, Airport Show will be the ideal platform to get hold of anything and everything the industry requires.”
Daniyal Qureshi, Group Exhibition Director at Reed Exhibitions Middle East, said significant investments and upgrades will be taking place at airports globally to implement the new health, safety and technology adoption initiatives by IATA and Airports Council International (ACI) with Airport Show a central meeting place to showcase new innovations to industry players. Key changes expected to be implemented at airports over the next five years will focus on new IT-driven technology and solutions and adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Cloud, Remote Control and Drone Technology; new green targets and initiatives, and passenger-centric touch-less solutions, self-check-in/bag drop and mobile-enabled services. Airports have always been exploring new ways to simplify the overall travel experience by adopting smart technologies and solutions which one can find in plenty at Airport Show, he said.
The global Airport Construction market is projected to reach US$1.4 trillion by 2025, driven by a growing government focus on building infrastructure for economic growth and societal evolution. According to an IATA study, over US$1.2 trillion is expected to be spent on global airport infrastructure development up to 2030. Another study says the global market for ‘smart’ airports is projected to reach US$23 billion by 2025. According to the Construction Intelligence Centre (CIC), airport-related construction projects in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are valued at over US$222 billion, with over US$93 billion in the execution stage. In the MEA region, Saudi Arabia leads the airport construction pipeline with US$59 billion worth of projects, followed by the UAE with US$58 billion projects. The Middle East ranks fourth out of six regions globally in terms of total investment value and it is by far the biggest market for the average spend per airport project, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan.