Tech investments for increased security

Investment in passenger processing technology ranks the number one priority for airports as airports give higher priority on IT investments for passenger and airport security. 

Airports are placing a higher priority on IT investments for passenger and airport security with 50 per cent rating it a high priority, up from 37 per cent in 2015, according to the 2016 Airport IT Trends Survey, jointly sponsored by SITA and Airports Council International (ACI) in association with Airline Business. For many airports, the investment focus has shifted to security in the wake of heightened regional tensions, some of which directly target air travel. 

While investment in passenger processing technology still ranks the number one priority for airports, it has dropped from 73 per cent in 2015 to 59 per cent this year as security rises in priority. 21

The survey shows that self-service and mobile dominate the airport landscape. For the first time SITA’s research indicates the majority of airports worldwide provide self-service check-in for both passengers and bags. Looking ahead, self-service will continue to dominate with two-thirds of airports planning major IT investments in this area. 

The growing influence of mobile is also evident with nearly every airport worldwide (90 per cent) undertaking either a major program or a trial project related to mobile services and 74 per cent trialing or piloting context-aware and location-based technology in the next five years. 

Matthys Serfontein, SITA Vice President, Airport Solutions, said: “The technology trends at airports reflect the changing world. Investments to support passenger and airport security are up while the increasing demands of the connected traveller for self-service and mobile services are also being met. 

“We see a shift where airports are also looking to technology to generate non-aeronautical revenue. By 2019, 84 per cent hope to make money by enabling the purchase of airport services through their mobile app. And there is also a clear trend to provide hybrid public Wi-Fi services that combine the convenience of limited free Wi-Fi with commercial offerings. Over the next three years the proportion of airports planning to offer unrestricted free Wi-Fi will drop from 74 per cent to 54 per cent. This change is mainly driven by airports in North America and the Middle East.” 

Using kiosks for services beyond check-in and bag drop to generate revenue will also appear at the world’s airports. 

Today a very small number of airports have kiosks that allow passengers to download digital content, such as the latest films, before they board the flight but by 2019, 30 per cent plan to do so. By that time 42 per cent also expect to have kiosks that enable sales transactions. 

SITA’s research takes a look further into the airport’s digital transformation exploring areas such as wearables, biometrics, robotics and context-aware services and how airports plan to use these innovative technologies over the next five to ten years. 

In the light of the increased focus on security it is not surprising that interest in biometric technology, which supports fast and secure passenger processing, is high. 

More than one third of airports will invest in single biometric travel token projects in the next five years jumping to the majority (52 per cent) within the decade. 

These findings are from the 13th annual SITA Airport IT Trends and reflect the views of more than 225 airports who together manage 36 per cent of the global traffic or 2.3 billion passengers. Almost 50 per cent of survey respondents came from airports within the Top 100 in terms of revenue. 

World’s largest VIP Terminal at Dubai South

The launch of the VIP Terminal at Dubai South’s Aviation District is yet another significant step towards realising Dubai’s vision of becoming the aviation capital of the world: His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman & Chief Executive - Emirates Airlines & Group, Chairman Dubai Airports.

The inauguration of the VIP Terminal at Dubai South marked an important chapter in the aviation history of Dubai.

The world’s largest VIP terminal was officially opened at Al Maktoum International at Dubai South on 19 December, 2016 by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman & Chief Executive- Emirates Airlines & Group, Chairman Dubai Airports.

The 5,600-square metre standalone facility is intended to exclusively cater to private, business and heads of state and government VIP travellers.

The largest purpose-built facility of its kind in the world, the terminal is set to create a niche in business aviation sector, offering VIP customers a seamless travel experience, coupled with time and cost efficiencies within a thriving aviation ecosystem.

Speaking on the occasion, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed said: “The launch of the VIP Terminal at Dubai South’s Aviation District is yet another significant step towards realising Dubai’s vision of becoming the aviation capital of the world.

With the opening of the world’s largest facility for private aviation, Dubai South has raised the bar on luxury travel, redefining the passenger experience.

A significant milestone for Dubai South and for aviation industry as a whole, the opening of the VIP Terminal will cement our position in the world of private aviation, bringing us a step closer to becoming the region’s premier aerospace hub.

The world-class facility is complemented by first-class services and experiences, all adding to an exemplary travel experience.”

It is the largest of its kind in the world, hosting two Fixed Base Operators (FBOs), JetEx and Falcon Aviation, according to Khalifa Al Zaffin, Chairman of Dubai Aviation City.

The VIP Terminal is minutes away from Al Maktoum International, which is shaping up to become the largest airport in the making.

The terminal is housed in a bespoke architectural structure reflecting the pioneering spirit and innovation-led heritage of Dubai’s aviation sector. Set inside an opulent and aesthetically rich interior, the terminal features luxurious duty free retail space.

The VIP Terminal currently hosts three operators including Falcon Aviation, Jetex and Jet Aviation.

As the world’s first master-planned airport city, Dubai South is concentrating on building state-of-the-art infrastructurea round the Al Maktoum International, thus creating a thriving aviation ecosystem.

The Aviation District provides a specialised business environment that meets all the needs of the aviation industry.

The first flight from the VIP terminal took place in April 2016, carrying 13 passengers on an Embraer Legacy aircraft that was headed to the Maldives. Since then, the terminal has witnessed 1,000 flight movements with the number anticipated to grow to 4,000 movements in 2017.

The terminal is part of Al Maktoum International, the planned largest airport in the world, which will involve the construction of five runways and increase in capacity to handle 160 million passengers a year once complete.

The facility is located in the Aviation District, which will become the new permanent home of the Dubai Airshow. 

Four points to ponder

Alexandre de Juniac,  Director General and CEO, IATA

Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO, IATA

Let me share some thoughts on what I see as the Middle East and North Afria (MENA) regions’ four top issues. 

The airport infrastructure in MENA demonstrates the foresight of governments wanting to capture aviation’s economic and social benefits. To keep this competitive advantage, continuous consultation is needed so that capital expenditure aligns industry growth, required service levels and acceptable costs. 

I will also sound a note of caution on infrastructure privatization. Saudi Arabia has announced privatization plans for 27 airports. Despite many privatizations around the world we have not seen any examples of airport privatization that have truly met expectations. Whatever be the ownership structure, airlines need airports with sufficient capacity and efficient and technically excellent operations. 

Even more urgent is the need to modernize air traffic management in the Gulf. A recent study calculates average delays in the Gulf at 29 minutes with the potential to double by 2025. More expensive technology is not the solution. Regional cooperation is. 

There has been an unprecedented rise in taxes and charges across the region — about $700 million in extra costs over 2015. The majority of that is from passenger facility charges. A low cost structure is a key component of the region’s success. 

Another trend that we must reverse is the proliferation of disparate consumer protection regulations. Regulators in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Jordan and the Arab Civil Aviation Commission are in various stages of activity in this regard. 

The fourth item, security, may well be the most challenging. It is a global issue. There are risks and challenges — insider threats, landside exposure at airports, overflight of conflict zones, and cyber security. Efficient airport checkpoints are important. 

Our need for cost-efficient infrastructure to meet demand, for reasonable taxation, for the implementation of global standards and for security is in no way selfish. 

Yes, it will help our business. But the bigger picture is the contribution that safe, secure, efficient and sustainable air transport makes to the welfare of nations. The business of freedom makes people’s lives better. Nothing should stand in the way of its success!  

Edited excerpts from a speech at the AGM of Arab Air Carriers’ Organisation in Morocco.

Gift of climate consensus

Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu,  President, International Civil Aviation Organization

Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President, International Civil Aviation Organization

In the face of carbon emission and climate change challenges, one gift which we can all be grateful is the very clear testament to realistic climate progress recently agreed to by the many diverse players in the international air transport sector. 

In September, no fewer than 191 governments came together at the Montreal headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to iron out the final points of a new CO2 emissions solution for international flights. 

The basic purpose of this global measure is to help aviation mitigate its CO2 emissions that are not already being reduced through new technologies, streamlined operations and improved infrastructure. 

Considered an impossible goal by many, especially given the wide-ranging variance in the capabilities and ambitions of the countries that needed to find common ground on it, the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), presented numerous diplomatic challenges. 

The ultimate agreement was further complicated by the fact that private sector organizations representing airlines, airports and many other air transport interests needed to be brought on board with its approach, including a wide range of non-governmental organizations. As a result of the clear motivation on behalf of these disparate parties to take meaningful climate action, an effective solution was arrived at. 

The CORSIA approach is both flexible and pragmatic. It is also a world first for any major industry sector and demonstrates that sufficient leadership and political will does exist today at the national and global levels to safeguard our environment. 

The air transport sector is currently responsible for roughly 1.3 per cent of annual man-made CO2 emissions. While that percentage may seem small, governments, airlines and others clearly recognize that it cannot double in lockstep with the number of flights our network manages. 

The new CORSIA solution will now help to complement the wide ranging efforts on emissions reductions that the aviation sector is already pursuing, and that have helped modern aircraft become 80 per cent more fuel efficient than the first commercial jets. 

It’s my hope that aviation’s gift of climate consensus will become a helpful example for other industries in the years ahead, and lead to further and concrete progress on reining in our collective emissions.