Dubai. 24 May 2021. 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, opened this morning the 20th edition of the Airport Show, the world’s largest B2B airport industry exhibition, that had generated an overwhelming response in its new physical and digital format due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The three-day exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Centre’s (DWTC) Halls 7 and 8 has the participation of more than 95 exhibitors from 21 countries, 100-plus Hosted Buyers from over 20 countries and 36 exhibitors at five country pavilions by Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France and the UK. These numbers are overwhelming given the prevailing travel restrictions across the globe following the 21st century’s second pandemic and the massive impact it has on the airports and airlines businesses on the planet. The response to the Airport Show is a clear indication of a possible journey of the aviation industry on the road to recovery and its unfaltering confidence and tremendous efforts to revive and restore the lost business levels and the growth momentum.
After formally opening and visiting the stands and pavilions at Dubai’s MICE landmark facility’s and interacting with the exhibitors about challenges and opportunities, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed said: “The aviation industry has a history of successfully bouncing back from crises and the Covid-19 pandemic is no different. The setback is temporary and we will again be on the tracks of transformation. The overwhelming response to the Airport Show is an indication of the aviation world’s strong confidence in Dubai and its global efforts.” “I am happy to see all the industry players working together for a remarkable and faster recovery after struggling through the pandemic and running the airports and airlines as the lifeline. As in the past, Dubai will in the future continue to lead in the industry’s resurgence through collaborations and cooperation. In a crisis, it is the self-confidence that moves the mountain and helps successfully sail against the winds.”
International experts said the airport industry, after over a year of unprecedented upheavals and challenges, has a renewed sense of optimism and positivity about regaining the lost tempo of growth and expansion from 2021 with the gradual improvement in passenger and aircraft movement due to the travel corridors being formed between destinations across the world. The potential influx of travellers after the pandemic becomes a history and travel restrictions eases has prompted the airports to deploy the newest technologies and solutions to ensure a healthy environment for safer travel until 2025 – and beyond.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects a 50 per cent improvement in the global passenger kilometres with the number of passengers growing to 2.8 billion with the opening of the borders by mid-2021, an increase of a billion passengers compared to the year 2020. IATA, which represents 290 airlines accounting for over 82 per cent of the total global air traffic, says people have not lost their desire to travel, and that travel has returned to its near-normal levels in several places where the travel restrictions have been removed. It had been earlier expected that the Arabian Gulf airports would handle 450 million passengers annually once travel returns to its previous levels.
Key decision-makers from major airports in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) have come to the Show in search of exploring and acquiring the newest products and services for their facilities for enhancing and safer passenger facilitation. Like the previous editions, the Airport Show 2021 has three co-located events: Global Airport Leaders Forum (GALF), Airport Security Middle East, Air Traffic Control (ATC) Forum along with and the Women in Aviation (WIA) General Assembly.
Attending the Show, His Excellency Thani Alzaffin, Group CEO, Emara tech, said: “There have been strong positive signs of recovery all over the world. Hopefully, 2021 will be a better year for the aviation/airport industry. The new standard for services at the airport will be seamless and contactless. The aviation industry will regain the lost momentum soon, especially in Dubai which is always ready to overcome all type of challenges. Emara tech is showcasing this year a complete paperless/seamless experience to ease the passenger’s journey towards a safe flight and circulation within the airport.”
His Excellency Ali Salim Al-Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah International Airport Authority, said beginning the Airport Show there will be a gradual return to normalcy in the aviation industry in the region after experiencing exceptionally challenging times due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He called for the strengthening of communication and cooperation in the industry to share plans and ideas and learn about the newest technologies.
The Dubai Air Navigation Services (dans) is strongly participating in the Show. Ibrahim Ahli, Executive Vice President of dans, the sole operator of air traffic services at Dubai airports, said: “In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, we are adopting and implementing strategic and future projects for the aviation sector to enhance the continuity of dealing with the air traffic efficiently even during the challenging times due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
He said dans will continue to innovate procedures, services and facilities to remain an ideal player to serve the aviation sector today and in the future. The Airport Expo will enable aviation professionals to gain insights into the latest technologies with a more holistic impact.
On his part, Daniyal Qureshi, Group Exhibitions Director at Reed Exhibitions Middle East, organisers of the Airport Show, the airport industry globally will witness massive investments to implement the new initiatives recommended by the IATA, ACI and ICAO in terms of health safety and technology adoption for quicker and smoother passenger movement at the airports. The major changes expected to be implemented at airports over the next five years will focus on technology and new IT-based solutions, reliance on artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud, remote control and drone technology and touch-less solutions for travellers, self-check-in/ baggage delivery and mobile-based services. Biometrics has become the focus of investment by airports along with contactless technologies.
Dubai International, the world’s top airport for international passengers for the seventh successive year, excels in terms of safety and security, with increasing use of contactless technology, as it provides the travellers with the opportunity to use their eyes to confirm their identity without the need to present any document. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, airport operators are now facing new challenges in terms of limiting personal contact and reducing congestion in addition to preventing passenger buildings from becoming potential grounds for virus spread.