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

First anniversary for Dubai International’s Concourse D

Dubai International Airport (DXB) celebrated the first anniversary of its impressive Concourse D on February 24, with Dubai Airports revealing that it handled 16.6 million passengers during its first year of operations.

It represents the final major piece of infrastructure to be built at DXB as part of the $7.8 billion Strategic Plan 2020 programme.

The $1.2 billion facility is currently home to 60 international airlines that operate into DXB’s Terminal 1 and connect it to 90 destinations around the world. Its addition has increased the annual capacity of the airport from 75 million passengers to 90 million passengers per annum.

“Concourse D is the outcome of a well-designed and meticulously planned project that was built around the evolving needs and expectations of our customers – the hundreds of thousands of passengers that pass through our airport every day,” enthuses HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports and president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. 

“After a successful first year of operations, it is very clear that Concourse D has achieved its goal of delighting our passengers and our business partners.” 

Investors sought to develop Iran’s gateway

The Iranian government is seeking private investors to help it fund a $3 billion facelift of the nation’s airport system.

It wants to modernise or expand Mehrabad, Imam Khomeini, Tabriz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Kerman and Shiraz airports, primarily through foreign investment, and according to local press reports, has so far signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with potential investors for around $2.35 billion and secured $650 million in firm contracts.

The most high profile MoU to date has been signed with VINCI Airports to develop Mashhad and Isfahan airports, which if it goes ahead, is expected to lead to the construction of two new terminals at Mashhad, Iran’s second biggest gateway.

The government wants Mashhad to get a new 43,000sqm international terminal and a 25,000sqm domestic passenger terminal.

Earlier this year Italian airport operator, SEA Group, signed an MoU to build a new 80,000sqm passenger terminal at Teheran’s Mehrabad International Airport.

The new $250 million terminal could eventually grow to 120,000sqm and effectively allow the airport to double its capacity from 14mppa to 28mppa.

It is also being reported that Italian construction company Vitali SPA has signed a contract to develop Tabriz International Airport, which serves the provincial capital of East Azerbaijan Province.

Elsewhere, the government is looking for investors to develop a new 25mppa terminal at Teheran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport under the framework or either a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) or Build Lease Transfer (BLT) agreement.

According to the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, 18.9 million passengers passed through Iran’s airports in the 12 months between March 2015 and February 2016, a rise of 8% on the previous year. 


Timmy time 

Say hello to Timmy, Hong Kong International Airport’s new robot ambassador who was brought onboard for the first time to greet travellers during the Chinese New Year holidays.

“Equipped with a microphone and camera, Timmy can greet and interact with passengers and always loves to pose for photos,” enthuses Airport Authority Hong Kong’s deputy director of airport operations, Vivian Cheung.

“We are exploring more opportunities to enhance our services and facilities by using the latest technologies.”

The gateway handled a record 70.5 million (+2.9%) in 2016 and the growth has continued this year with numbers up 1% in the first two months of 2017, the upturn being driven by the surge in Hong Kong resident travel during the Chinese New Year holidays, which saw a year-on-year rise of 24%. 

Passenger traffic to and from Japan, Europe and South East Asia registered the most significant increases during the month. 

New Flying Doctors facility to open in Darwin

Darwin International Airport (DIA) is set to become the home of the 25th aeromedical base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).

The RFDS has been transporting patients from Central Australia and the Kimberley region to Royal Darwin Hospital for almost 80 years, utilising a combination of hangar sub-lease and shared access arrangements with general aviation providers at Darwin Airport.

However, following the signing of a new 15-year lease agreement between DIA and RFDS Central Operations, the airport has agreed to construct a A$4 million facility to RFDS design specifications.

The purpose-built RFDS Darwin Base will be located on land next to the NT Health hangar that serves the Territory’s commercial aeromedical contract. Last year the RFDS transported more than 2,600 Territorians – equivalent to seven patients per day in the Northern Territory. 

Pullman Novotel

New five-star hotel for Auckland 

Auckland Airport and Tainui Group Holdings have announced an agreement to develop a new 5-star Pullman hotel close to the gateway’s international terminal and the existing 4-star Novotel hotel.

While the additional hotel development has long been a feature of its ‘airport of the future’ vision, Mark Thomson, Auckland Airport’s general manager for property, says the timing has been influenced by unprecedented demand for hotel accommodation in Auckland. 

He notes that building the 250-room hotel is also in direct response to strong demand for new accommodation that provides easy access to the airport terminals.

“Auckland Airport plays a key role in New Zealand’s growing tourism industry and in connecting Auckland to New Zealand and New Zealand to the world,” says Thomson.

“This hotel will benefit from its premium location adjacent to the international terminal and provide more choices for travellers looking for high quality accommodation within walking distance of both terminals.”


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