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Published on : Thursday, May 14, 2015
International aviation industry leaders and decision-makers at the 3rd edition of Global Airport Leaders’ Forum (GALF), which concluded today, debated on challenges and opportunities facing the rapidly growing aviation industry worldwide. In order to ensure seamless and secure travel experiences through the airports, the aviation industry leaders mphasized on the need to work more towards better collaboration, wider passenger engagement, systems integration and effective and extensive use of technology. To handle the phenomenal expected growth in air traffic, intelligent designs, effective use of space and technology are a must. Losing personal contact with passengers and lack of coordination among stakeholders within and across countries are the potential risks the stakeholders must address, the speakers emphasized.
Omar Bin Ghaleb, Deputy Director General, UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, said the UAE will have a major share in the aircraft movements in the most congested airspace in the world. “The aircraft movements in the UAE airspace will increase to 1.62 million in 2030 with aircraft movements numbering 4,400 per day compared with the present 2,200 aircraft movements,” he said in his keynote address today.
Ms Angela Gittens, Director General, Airports Council International (ACI), while talking about the aviation security regimen, said the current approach towards passenger screening was not sustainable with the expected high growth in air service demand.
His Excellency Dr Faisal Hamad Al Sugair, Vice-Chairman and Vice-President of the Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has ambitious expansion plans chalked out for all its airports over the next 10 years to cater to the phenomenal growth expected in air traffic in the region.
Technology will play a key role in ensuring seamless Air Traffic Management (ATM) as the Middle East region in general and the UAE in particular records significant growth in air traffic in the coming years, said Ahmed Ibrahim Al Jallaf, Assistant Director General for Air Navigation Services at the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
ACI has joined forces with IATA on a ‘Smart Security’ project to work with governments to define the future of security screening and drive the needed change, said Gittens.
“The objective is to improve the journey from curb to boarding, where passengers proceed through security checkpoints with minimal inconvenience, where security resources are allocated based on risk and where airport facilities can be optimized,” she said.
Bin Ghaleb said the UAE has made significant strides of growth in the past few years in spite of the enormous challenges and obstacles. “During the initial decades following our nation’s formation, we were focused on creating and strengthening our basic infrastructure. Today, we can say with pride that the UAE offers its people one of the most advanced aviation infrastructure facilities,” he said.
Quoting International Air Transport Association (IATA), Bin Ghaleb said airlines around the world carried about 3.3 billion passengers in 2014, which is slightly less than half the population of the globe and this figure was projected to increase by 2017 to four billion people.
“Forecasts by experts and stakeholders suggest that the airlines in the Middle East plans to invest $450 billion to acquire 2525 new aircraft by 2030, which will increase the size of their fleets by 160 per cent in 2030, up from the present 1060 aircraft. Our airports become even more important thanks to their strategic geographical location and gradual transition of global economic gravity towards Asia. We are witnessing a substantial growth of 7.6 per cent, above the global average of five per cent,” added Bin Ghaleb.
Emphasising on enhancing cooperation and coordination among stakeholders, Bin Ghaleb said the challenges are numerous while solutions are limited. “It is this cooperation and adoption latest technologies will contribute to air traffic management efficiency to accommodate the anticipate air traffic growth.”
Gittens emphasised on collaboration among stakeholders. “Collaboration is a cornerstone of ACI’s work, and it’s clear that we can put more efficiency and reliability into the system by sharing information among the players.
ACI is collaborating within and outside of the industry on facilitation solutions, with projects to support implementation and harmonisation of automated border control solutions that use interoperable equipment and common international standards. In the same vein, ACI, along with ICAO and IATA, has supported the proliferation of Automated Passport Control systems in the US and Canada.
Airport Collaborative Decision Making, or A-CDM, which consists of sharing information among the various players whose operations affect the movement of planes, passengers, baggage and ground vehicles, provides the kind of awareness needed to restore functionality or at least mitigate the effect of irregular operations, added Gittens.
During the session on ‘ATM solutions for 2030 and beyond’ Al Jallaf said the way forward to 2030 will be towards having “more automated, systemized and predictable” ATM operations. He said the aircraft movements in the UAE Flight Information Region (FIR) is projected to be around 884799 this year with an average of 2424 flights a day. In 2020, this will reach 1.2 million or 3314 flights per day and will reach 1.85 million in 2030 with an average of 5067 flights.
He provided insights various initiatives that were introduced to improve air traffic management in the UAE, including the airspace restructuring programmes taken up in line with the recommendations made by the Airbus Prosky for GCAA. He offered insights into the UAE Airspace Restructuring Project, GCC Upper Airspace Project and Middle East ATM Enhancement Programme (MAEP).
He also highlighted the need for more regional collaboration among the stakeholders, better and increased use of technology and training and education for those working in the ATM domain.
Nils Svan, Vice President for Strategy at Dubai Air Navigation Services (DANS), also highlighted the need for and benefits of collaboration among the stakeholders. He pointed out the benefits of leveraging technology which will help in efficient route management, flow segregation and minimizing delays, among others. He also spoke about the Remote Aerodrome Control Service and Quad Approach at Dubai World Central (DWC).
Philippe Merlo, Director of ATM at EUROCONTROL, provided insights about the European ATM. He said the air traffic in Europe has been growing moderately at around two per cent annually. Delays are under control with an average of around 30 seconds per flight and that the focus was more on cost efficiency in ATM. The SESAR programme has been implemented in January this year and the project is expected to help in better ATM until the year 2022.
During the session on ‘Airport Designing’, His Excellency Dr Faisal Hamad Al Sugair, Vice-Chairman and Vice-President of the Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has ambitious expansion plans chalked out for all its airports over the next 10 years to cater to the phenomenal growth expected in air traffic in the region.
“The unique challenge is to expand and provide a comfortable experience to our passengers and expansion is not just about the area but also about other things such as first class lounges or sir site hotels, to enhance passenger experience,” he said.
He said the effort was to expand intelligently and carry expansion plans of each airport as per the specific demands for that airport.
Augmenting processes is highly important to accommodate the rising number of passengers, he added.
“We have done it in Saudi Arabia. You just need to relieve bottlenecks, find ways to accommodate additional passengers without building new capacities. Augmenting the processes is very important,” said Al Sugair.
Expansion is needed but security and flexibility will be the main challenges in airport designing, said Yann Le Page, Senior Vice-President, Regional, ADPI.
Talking about delivering infrastructure, Barry Lewis, Managing Director, ALEC Construction UAE, said the stakeholders needed to work together with a common objective.
During the session on ‘Technology: Facilitating a smooth take off for the aviation industry’, the speakers opined that with an increased mobility customer expectations have risen and technology will continue to play a major role in enhancing passenger experience.
Hussain Dabbas, Regional Vice-President, Africa & Middle East, IATA, said growth of aviation industry has driven demand for technology and the key is to utilize technology in the best way to enhance passenger experience and meet the challenges facing the aviation industry.
“In 2007, when IATA conducted a study, 54 per cent people said they prefer to be served by a machine. If you consider standing in queues for long time, self-service is a much better option as it meets the target of making the passengers happy. They key is to make passengers happy,” on whether passengers would prefer self-service.
He said all stakeholders whether it is the airline, the airports or other stakeholders, we all need to work together to move ahead.
Michael Schneider, Chief Executive Officer, SD (Middle East) LLC, Logistics and Airport Solutions, Siemens, said airports and other stakeholders need to understand in depth the needs of their customers to provide them with the solutions that meet those requirements. “We need to listen to the customers instead of simply giving them something which is created without understanding their need.”
Matthys Serfontein, Vice President, Airport Solution Line, SITA, said: “One of the risks is that some of us may adopt new technologies faster than others. We all need to be scalable.” He also said there could be a risk of losing a face to face interaction with the customers that many airlines and airports take pride in.
During the panel discussion on ‘Security – An Inconvenient Companion – The challenges of making the journey easier yet safer’, Major General (Pilot) Ahmad bin Thani, Assistant Commander for Seaports and Airport Affairs at Dubai Police, said one of the challenges facing the stakeholders was finding trained and qualified human resources to contribute towards effectively handling the changing needs and expectations.
He underscored the need for developing and synergizing processes for better travel experience at the airports and other border points.
Thani Abdulla Alzaffin, Director General and Board Member of emaratech, said it remains a challenge of several airports around the world to ensure that passengers breeze through the border control points in a seamless fashion.
“The higher throughout at airports requires us to reinvent the process that will ensure smooth movement of passengers from the point they enter the airport to boarding the flight. New technologies and border automation will play a critical part in this transformation,” he remarked.
Charles Stallworth, Assistant Commissioner of International Affairs at the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), said the pre-clearance facility introduced by CBP in association Transport Security Administration (TSA) for the US-bound passengers from the Abu Dhabi International Airport in January last year has proved to be very effective in facilitating smooth and hassle-free travel facilitation.
Starting with one flight a day, the facility now has seven flights a day to six US airports and it was benefitting about 2,000 passengers a day. The UAE is the first Arab country to have such a facility operated by CBP.
Thani Abdulla Alzaffin said the airport industry faces the challenges in terms of coming up to the expectations of the present day travellers who are more connected than the previous generation. He referred to a large percentage of travellers were still on the other side of the technical divide.
Waqar Mohamed, Regional Aviation Manager for the Middle East at G4S, pointed out the need for a balance in terms of compliance with the security regulations and passengers’ expectations.
He called for an integrated approach to the whole scenario by the stakeholders which will go a long way in differentiating the best from the good. He shared details about the airport projects that G4S has been associated with, including the Dubai International Airport, currently the world’s number airport for international passengers with the 2014 passenger throughput of over 71 million.
Organized by Reed Exhibitions Middle East, GALF was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.
Daniyal Qureshi, Group Exhibition Director at Reed Exhibitions Middle East, organisers of Airport Show, GALF and TCE, said: “GALF 2015 was a resounding success and successfully brought under one roof every stakeholder of the industry, including airport operators, air navigation service providers, civil aviation authorities and regulators.
“The debate agenda had a good mix of issues and topics of interest to the aviation industry general and airports in particular. The strong participation of organizations like ICAO, Airports Council International (ACI), IATA, Eurocontrol, General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) Dubai Air Navigation Services (DANS) and Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) provided a big impetus to the efforts in taking the sustainable aviation agenda to the next level. We are confident the knowledge sharing initiative will go a long way towards the goal of sustainable aviation industry in the region.”