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A snapshot of some of the biggest stories from across the region.

Another milestone for Hong Kong’s SKYCITY

Hong Kong International Airport’s vision to transform itself from a city airport to an airport city is a step closer to reality following the handing over of a second key SKYCITY site to developers.

Developers Roxy Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of New World Development Company Limited, will build facilities in line with the airport’s plans to make SKYCITY a major retail, dining and entertainment (RDE) venue.

The handing over of the keys to Site A2 follows a similar ceremony in May 2018 when airport operator, Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), handed over Site A3 to Roxy Limited.

The 25-hectare SKYCITY is set to be located just a short stroll from HKIA’s passenger terminals and will be conveniently accessible by rail, road and a network of footbridges.

Scheduled to be opened in phases from 2023 to 2027, the RDE facilities being developed by New World Development will take up a maximum floor area of 350,000 square metres.

According to AAHK, the RDE facilities in SKYCITY will introduce an array of leading international ‘technovation’ brands to the city and brand experience-based entertainment, such as Hong Kong’s first indoor and outdoor kart track, AR and VR interactive game facilities and kids experiential zone.


New technology transforming the passenger journey in Doha

Hamad International Airport (HIA) has launched the second phase of its innovative Smart Airport programme, which it claims will initiate an exciting major digital transformation of the passenger journey through facial biometric recognition across all key passenger touchpoints.

The system, currently under trial, is a central piece of Doha airport’s digital strategy and combines passengers’ flight, passport, and facial biometric information in a single electronic record at the self-check-in kiosk or mobile app.

Subsequently, only the passenger’s face is required for verification at the self-service bag-drop, automated security gate, and the automated boarding gate, making the experience fast and seamless.

HIA’s chief operating offcer, Badr Mohammed Al Meer, says: “Our approach to identity management is unique and holistic, in that we foresee wide-scale deployment of biometric capability across both mandated and voluntary passenger touchpoints while addressing customer data privacy concerns in line with relevant local and international regulations.”

Major upgrade for Bangkok Suvarnabhumi

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi is set for a major upgrade following Airports of Thailand’s announcement that it will build a second $1.3 billion terminal and the Thai government’s approval of a third runway.

The new terminal will have a different design and possible location to the one proposed in the original master plan, which was shelved following criticism that it was inadequate to meet the airport’s needs and too far from the existing passenger complex.

State-owned Airports of Thailand (AoT) has given no time scale for the development of Terminal 2, with tenders relating to the design and construction of the new 30 million passengers per annum facility expected to be issued by the end of this year.

Initial reports indicate that it will have its own luggage conveyor belt system and automated passenger transport link to the existing terminal.

The new runway approved by the Thai government in April 2019 is expected to cost $700 million subject to it passing an environmental and health impact study conducted by the National Environment Board.

If approved, its construction could start later this year and finish in 2021, effectively ensuring that Bangkok Suvarnabhumi has the capacity to handle up to 94 aircraft movements per hour as opposed to 64 today.


Sydney’s initiative to aid visually impaired travellers

Sydney Airport has launched a service that it claims enables blind and low vision travellers to confidently navigate the airport through a smartphone connection.

Launched in partnership with Aira, the service provides visually impaired visitors and passengers with instant access to the information they need to explore Sydney Airport’s terminals.

“This new service will significantly improve the airport experience for the visually impaired community,” enthused airport CEO, Geoff Culbert. “The trial we recently completed at T2 Domestic was a game changer for the participant and that’s something we’re really excited about.

“We welcome 44.4 million passengers a year through the airport and we’re continually looking for innovative ways to make the journey better,” he said.

Vision Australia CEO, Ron Hooton, said that the technology makes the world instantly more accessible for more than 380,000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision.

He said: “Airports can be difficult environments to navigate for people who are blind or have low vision. Becoming an Aira access location means the community can visit Sydney Airport without worrying if there will be somebody there to help them make their way to check in, find their gate or access any other of the airport’s facilities.”


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