Airports need new technologies to cope with growth

07 May 2018
Daily airline passenger volume expected to more than double to reach 21 million

Daily airline passenger numbers is expected to reach 21 million in 2034, double the current figure, and will require airports to revamp processes and tap into new technologies such as biometrics and artificial intelligence to cope with the expected growth.

“We need to build more airports but build them differently [to cope with expected growth],” Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths tells MEED on the sidelines of the 2018 Global Airport Leaders Forum organised by CAPA and held on the opening day of the Dubai Airport Show on 7 May. “Current technologies are not meant to be sufficient to cope with this enormous growth…airport structures need to change, because you just can’t keep doing what you’re doing now and expect the current processes… to meet the growth expectations over the next decade.”

Griffiths said new technologies can re-order the entire airport procedure, eliminating everything we hate about air travel such as physical security, visa and passport checks.

“These new technologies, along with advances in railway or roadway mobility, will in future allow passengers to be transported from their homes directly to the airport terminal," says Griffiths.

The expected growth in the number of people travelling by plane will pose a major challenge to airport capacities globally although Griffiths argues that capacity expansion will not be an issue for Dubai. "We have spent $12bn since 2008 in expanding Dubai International airport ... to increase capacity to 90 million passengers a year," says Griffiths.

The DXB Plus programme, which is designed to improve service at space-constrained Dubai International, is expected boost the airport's capacity to 118 million passengers by 2023 through process improvements and use of new technology without adding any significant infrastructure.

Dubai International airport processed 88.2 million passengers in 2017, growing 5.5 per cent over the previous year and forecast a 2.3 per cent growth in 2018.

The airport maintained its status as the world’s top airport for international passengers despite slower growth last year.

Markets that showed the most significant growth in 2017 included Russia with passenger numbers surging 28 per cent to 1,339,534, and China with 2,212,179 passengers, up 19.4 per cent over 2016.

MEED understands the relaxation of visa regulations for both countries, whose nationals can now get a visa on arrival, triggered the growth in passenger numbers.


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