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Terminal velocity

Posted 10 October 2018 · Add Comment

Dubai’s Airport Show has developed into one of the largest events of its kind for the airport industry and, as Mohamed Ali Ahli reports, it is big business as the MENA region continues to spend on infrastructure projects.

With the growing forecasts for air travel over the next 13 years seeing a doubling of passenger numbers and a global requirement for more air freight, it is no surprise that airports need to be growing too.
And the Airport Show was the place to be.
This year, the 18th edition was the largest annual event of its kind and hosted more than 350 exhibitors from 60 countries, with the largest number of dedicated pavilions ever representing Europe, the US and Asia, along with more than 7,500 visitors. There were 75 airports represented at the event.
The total value of the global airport construction projects pipeline stands at $721.7 billion, according to the event organisers. The US and China account for the largest shares, with project pipelines valued at $90.4 billion and $76.7 billion, respectively.
Asia-Pacific has the highest value pipeline, at $291.2 billion, followed by the Middle East and Africa (MEA) with $163.5 billion.
The Global Airport Leaders Forum (GALF), which ran alongside the Airport Show, focused on the development of new technologies that will improve the efficiency of the airport business.
“There are only two places in the world where you have to queue these days,” said Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports. “That is the Post Office and the airport. I want to give the Post Office the monopoly.”
Griffiths explained why there was such a need in investment in airport infrastructure and technology and laid out the impact the industry has on global commerce. “Currently, the industry supports 298 million jobs globally and, by 2020, the figure will rise to 382 million,” he said. Most of the jobs will be created in the Asia Pacific region. Around $7.6 trillion was contributed by the aviation industry to the global gross domestic product (GDP) during 2016 and it will be $11.5 trillion by 2027 globally.
“All these numbers show future travel looks very bright,” said Griffiths.
Speaking on the topic: ‘Travel & tourism – the beacon of hope’, Griffiths highlighted the importance of innovative technologies that will change the shape of future travel and tourism.
He said that artificial intelligence (AI) will be a game-changer for future travel and it will ease the life of passengers.
He said the machine will be faster, better and also cheaper for most of the things we do today. “Statistics show a decline in employment in most sectors, particularly industries, because of the increasing role of technology. The World Economic Forum study predicts 7.1 million jobs will disappear,” he said .
He pointed out that today around 10 million passengers step on board an aircraft every day around the world and, by 2034, the number of passengers would jump to 21 million globally. Again, the majority of growth will come from the Asia Pacific region, with 1.8 billion passengers in the next 15 years.
Ibrahim Ahli, deputy CEO of Dubai Air Navigation Services (DANS), said the air traffic management (ATM) technology also had to keep pace. He emphasised the importance of cutting-edge technologies coupled with research and development.
“DANS, for the first time in the history of the UAE and the entire Middle East region, carried out a complete restructuring of air space in a mission to meet the everyday growing demand in the aviation sector,” he said. “This included its capacity enhancement and further efficient utilisation of air space between civil and military departments.
“We deliver an average 1,500 aircraft movement daily in Dubai airspace.” He added that this figure is expected to grow significantly.
For many of the delegates at the show it was the prospect of the 152 active aviation-related infrastructure projects in the Middle East – currently having reached an identified spend of $57.7 billion – that most caught their attention.
Saudi Arabia accounted for the largest share of project value, followed by the UAE and Kuwait.
According to the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) data, up to $1.1 trillion is to be spent on airport construction globally – this is broken down as $255 billion being invested in new (greenfield) airport projects around the world and $845 billion in projects such as new runways and terminal buildings, runway and terminal extensions.
In the Arab world, Tunisia will build a new airport that meets international standards by 2030. With an estimated cost of $840 million, the new civilian airport will be the tenth in the northern African country.
Egypt is spending $18.5 billion in building three new airports, including the New Administrative Capital Airport, which is expected to be completed in 2019. The Sphinx International Airport is slated to open this year.
In Saudi Arabia, the new Taif International Airport is expected to open in December 2020. The biggest Arabian Gulf state has 27 airports and the government plans the development of four new airports.
By 2019, Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport plans to increase its total capacity to handle 24 million international passengers yearly.
The Sultanate of Oman, which earlier this year opened a $1.8 billion ‘silent terminal’ with robots directing passengers, hopes it will be among the top 20 airports in the world by 2020. Three development phases are expected to boost the number of passengers at the airport to 24 million, 36 million and finally 48 million.
Three regional airports are also under development in Ad Duqm, Sohar and Ras Al Hadd.
Bahrain is building its second international airport on an artificial island at a cost of $1.1 billion, with the project’s first phase expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2019. The terminal will quadruple the capacity, from four million passengers per year to 14 million. Kuwait is constructing a new $4.3 billion airport terminal to handle 25 million passengers per year. Spread across 708,000sqm, it will be able to accommodate all aircraft types, with the ability to serve 21 A380s. According to forecasts, passenger traffic is expected to exceed 23 million in 2027.
Terminal 4 and the Al-Jazeera passenger terminal are expected to be completed by mid- 2018, while the new Kuwait International Airport will be ready by 2020.
Construction of airport-related projects in the UAE is progressing at a brisk pace. Fujairah International Airport is undergoing a $180 million expansion programme.
Sharjah International Airport will also be put through a $410 million revamp programme to help it serve increased passenger traffic. It plans the construction of new terminal in 2019, with first phase to open in 2021 in a move that will increase the airport’s capacity to 25 million passengers. The full project is expected to be ready by 2025. It is part of an AED1.5 billion expansion plan.
Abu Dhabi is constructing a mega midfield terminal costing AED10 billion ($2.7bn) to handle up to 84 million passengers per year when it opens, although it has been delayed. Dubai is continuing to develop its second airport at Dubai South/Dubai World Central/Al Maktoum Airport, or even more recently The Cosmoport. It will go head-to-head with the New Istanbul Airport, which begins operations later this year, to claim the spot as the world’s largest global gateway, with capacity for more than 160 million passengers per year.
The New Istanbul Airport – the biggest infrastructure project in the history of Turkey at $10 billion – will initially have two runways, expanding to six by 2028. At 67.6 million sqm, the airport would be the largest by size in the world, targeting capacity of 90 million passengers per year.
Further across the region, in Libya, Tripoli has set aside $2.1 billion for airport construction projects, while Algiers has set aside $952 million.

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