Image: Nadd Alshiba
The 22nd edition of the Airport Show closed on high note in the wake of full recovery in the global aviation industry led by the Middle East, especially the UAE.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, who inaugurated the event, described Airport Show as a crucial event timed perfectly to accelerate the global aviation industry recovery.
Ever since His Highness Sheikh Ahmed inaugurated the Show on May 9, 2023, there was continuous flow of quality visitors, including trade participants and industry stakeholders and the venue saw the footprint of more than 5,000 visitors.
The Show was held at a time when massive expansion of airport terminals in the Middle East is on the anvil and the airports are gearing up to handle 1.1 billion passengers by 2040 with the airports capacity expansions costing an investment of $151 billion. Abu Dhabi is reportedly spending $3 billion to open the new terminal and Dubai is reportedly restarting the expansion of Al Maktoum International Airport.
Sheikh Ahmed said: “The construction of new airports and expansion and upgrading of existing facilities has gained pace to ensure airports meet the future demand as well as the needs and expectations of travellers.”
Exhibitors and participants expressed extreme satisfaction as they received overwhelming response from other participants and stakeholders which would be translated into future collaborations and strong business relationships.
Airport Show displayed products and services from over 150 exhibitors from more than 60 countries. The trade show with the theme, ‘Together in Innovating Future Sustainable Airports,’ has proved that it is the world’s largest annual airport industry B2B platform.
The 2023 Business Connect Programme hosted more than 100 buyers representing 35 companies from more than 20 countries.
Exhibitors from the US, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Netherlands, China, Belgium, Korea and Sweden and several other countries including the host, UAE, showcased the latest innovative products and technologies to make the aviation industry safe and sustainable, enhance efficiency and passenger experience.
The co-located events ATC Forum, Gulf Aviation Leaders’ Forum (GALF), Airport Security Middle East and Women in Aviation Middle East Anniversary Conference were highly successful with active and constructive the participation of global experts and industry leaders.
The deliberations proved that GALF serves as a platform to shape the future of aviation industry and a space where the industry experts and stakeholders come together to share insight, engage in meaningful discussion and for strategic partnership.
GALF celebrated its milestone 10th edition with a positive news that the Middle East is leading the aviation recovery and very soon Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia will achieve 100% recovery, as affirmed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
IATA’s Regional Director, Middle East and Africa, Kashif Khalid, said aviation industry recovery is on track with a strong start to 2023.
“The global aviation industry is almost close to pre-pandemic level of 2019 numbers. Traffic is at approximately 88% of 2019 numbers. This means that we are almost at the pre-pandemic levels, and with the opening of China recently, we can expect to see the pre-2019 levels within the next few months,” he said at the GALF.
“The Middle East is leading global recovery reaching 93% of the pre-2019 levels and very soon we will be forecasting that the Middle East, especially Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia, will cross the 100% recovery. Full recovery in passenger traffic in the Middle East is expected in 2024 and will grow at 4.2% annually through 2040,” he said.
The IATA official said: “If we look at airlines economics and finance, the Middle East is the only region poised to make profit in 2023. And if we look at the performance of Emirates, flydubai, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia, all of them have provided robust growth rates, reinstated capacity and are looking at record profits this year.”
Omar Bin Ghaleb, Deputy Director General of UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), reaffirmed the UAE leadership’s vision to create a world class aviation ecosystem that embraces cutting edge technology, fosters innovation, promotes sustainability and delivers an exceptional customer experience.
“We must navigate rapidly in a changing landscape. We recognise the significance of aviation in our national development and we remain committed to positioning our airports and airlines in the forefront of global best practices.”
In line with the current exigency of focusing sustainability, the Airport Show exhibitors and participants showcased cutting edge products and services.
Reducing carbon footprint
Speakers also stressed on the need for embracing sustainability and adopting innovative technology to reduce carbon footprint.
Ibrahim Ahli, Deputy CEO of Dubai Air Navigation Services (dans), listed the challenges faced by the aviation industry and said the UAE has overcome the challenges and become the hub of aviation. “The challenges could be successfully faced under the determined vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the empowering leadership of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, and Chairman of Dubai Air Navigation Services.
The industry’s commitment to reduce carbon footprint was reiterated in the form of panel discussions, technology displays and service offerings.
Technology giant Honeywell used the Airport Show venue to launch its next generation docking system ‘Honeywell Navitas Smart Visual Docking’ which helps pilots via signals to see the aircraft docking and come to the airport gate safely.
Airport Show, in partnership with dnata, presented the Sustainable Apron featuring electric/hybrid Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and Ground Handling Equipment (GHE) manufacturers.
Robert Powell, Vice President, Technical Services, dnata, said: “We could share our insights and plans with our partners to further improve environmental efficiency across the industry. It was a step to help the airport community achieve a more sustainable airport industry that is aiming to reduce carbon footprint year on year.”
May Ismail, Event Manager, Airport Show, said: “As organisers, we are glad that the Show could bring together top aviation leaders and stakeholders to build relationships and exchange knowledge on the platforms of ATC Forum, Airport Security Middle East, GALF and Women in Aviation Middle East Anniversary Conference.”