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APA1 2024 NEWS

Industry news

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We report on some of the news stories making headlines across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.


EXCEPTIONAL TRAFFIC GROWTH IN ABU DHABI

Abu Dhabi Airports, the operator of five airports across the Emirate, has released what it is calling “exceptional” passenger traffic results for the first quarter of 2024.

The high praise for its Q1 performance is based on a 35.6% upturn in passenger numbers across its airport network between January and March 2024 compared to the same period a year ago.

In total, 6.9 million passengers passed through its gateways, almost all of them passing through Abu Dhabi’s Zayed International Airport, which welcomed 6.8 million travellers during the quarter.

Abu Dhabi Airports notes that in Q1 2024, Zayed International Airport expanded its airline network with the return of Turkmenistan Airlines and the launch of Hainan Airlines operating to Haikou, China, bringing the total number of regular scheduled operators to nearly 30 carriers.

Elena Sorlini, managing director and CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “These figures demonstrate the continued success of our airports, which are increasingly attracting a growing number of airlines and passengers from around the world.

“Abu Dhabi Airports remains committed to investing in its facilities and services to enhance the passenger experience and wider value proposition to satisfy our existing airline partners and our common customers, as well as attract new ones. With these strong Q1 results, the airport group is well-positioned for further growth and success in the future.”

In addition to passenger growth, cargo traffic also registered significant expansion in Q1 2024, with 162,000 tonnes of air freight (+25.6%) handled across all airports. Abu Dhabi Airports says that this “impressive performance” accentuates the Emirate’s role in facilitating global trade and commerce, driven by increased shipments of general cargo and specialised products such as express deliveries, and pharmaceuticals.


NEW OPERATOR FOR SRI LANKAN GATEWAY

According to a statement released by the Sri Lankan government on April 26, an Indian/Russian consortium has been awarded the concession to operate Mattala Rajapaska International Airport for the next 30 years.

Constructed with funding from the China EXIM Bank, the airport has struggled to make an impact since its 2013 opening, and it is hoped that its fortunes can be revived, and the financial debts of the Sri Lankan government eased, by the new operators.

The statement named Shaurya Aeronautics (Pvt) Ltd of India and Russia’s Airports of Regions Management Company as the winning bidder for the concession. The Adani Group was previously linked with the airport.

With tourism once again on the rise in Sri Lanka – foreign tourist arrivals doubled to 1.48 million in 2023 – the government is looking for private investors to manage and develop the country’s airport infrastructure over the coming decades.


NEW JV TO BOOST NON-AERO REVENUE AT WUXI AIRPORT

Changi Airport Group subsidiary, Changi Airports International (CAI), has established a joint venture to manage the non-aeronautical business at China’s Wuxi Shuofang International Airport (WUX).

The new JV is with Wuxi Sunan International Airport Group Co Ltd (Wuxi Airport Group), a company wholly owned by Wuxi Municipal People’s Government of China.

Under the terms of the agreement, the joint venture will operate and manage five key areas of the airport’s non-aeronautical business on an exclusive concessionary basis for 20 years.

According to CAI, these comprise retail (including duty-free shops), food and beverage, advertisement, car park and passenger services at the airport’s passenger terminals. The scope also includes the future Terminal 3 and ground transportation centre.

CAI CEO, Eugene Gan, said: “CAI will leverage its deep knowledge of the Chinese market and industry expertise to enhance the non-aeronautical performance of Shuofang airport.

“Among other things, we will improve the airport’s commercial layout and design, introduce more diverse and international retail and food and beverage selections, as well as create better leisure and entertainment options to enrich the passenger experience.”


INCHEON AND MUNICH SIGN NEW TRAINING INITIATIVE

Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) and Munich Airport are embarking on what they describe as an “intensive cooperation in the field of aviation training”.

Both have their own training academies and under the terms of a newly signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) have agreed to form a partnership that will focus on joint initiatives to develop and implement innovative training programmes that address the changing needs and requirements of the aviation industry.

The MoU calls for new levels of communication between the two academies as well as the exchange of modern training methods. The agreement also allows for the exchange of training courses and instructors to provide a varied and comprehensive learning experience.

Hag Jae Lee, CEO of Incheon International Airport Corporation, and Jost Lammers, CEO of Munich Airport, signed the MoU at Munich Airport’s Airport Academy earlier this year.


PLANNING THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF MADINAH AIRPORT

TAV Airports is to invest $275 million on expanding the existing terminal and building a new domestic terminal at Madinah Airport (Medina) in Saudi Arabia.

It says that the investment is needed to ensure that the airport is equipped to handle 18 million passengers per annum, allowing it to meet “surging passenger traffic”, which last year jumped by just under 50% to 9.4 million passengers.

The gateway, officially called Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, was Saudi Arabia’s first airport privatisation project.

The signing of the ‘Head of Terms’ agreement was attended by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Transport, Saleh bin Nasser AI Jasser; president of General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdulaziz Al-Duailej; TAV Airports CEO, Serkan Kaptan; and executive board member and chair of excom, Franck Mereyde.

Kaptan enthused: “We have been successfully operating Madinah Airport, the gateway to the Holy Land, together with our partner Al-Rajhi, for the last 12 years. The passenger traffic is increasing on a very fast pace following the lifting of travel bans brought in during the pandemic.

“This new investment programme will help accommodate increasing demand and is fully supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which aims to attract more visitors into the country.”

The consortium of TAV Airports and Al-Rajhi Holding holds the concession rights to operate Madinah Airport until May 2041.

The planned investment includes building a new domestic terminal with an area of 40,000sqm, which allow the existing terminal to concentrate on the further development of international traffic.

According to TAV Airports, which is a member of Groupe ADP, the airport will also benefit from new connecting roads and more car parking spaces.

TAV Airports began the operation and development of Madinah Airport in 2012 and has since built a new terminal, which upon opening was the first LEED-certificated building in the MENA region.

Global airport operator, TAV Airports, served 96 million passengers in 2023 at 110 airports in 33 countries across the globe.


DEDICATED SECURITY LANES FOR FAMILIIES AT HAMAD

Hamad International Airport (DOH) has introduced dedicated screening lanes for families with younger children transferring through the airport as it believes that they will boost customer satisfaction levels, reduce wait times at security checkpoints, and provide staff assistance to aide families with their personal belongings.

According to the airport, the initiative reflects its commitment to minimising stress and wait times for passengers, in the process “elevating the travel experience for all passengers.”

It notes that it will closely monitor the success of the new lanes, which have initially been introduced in the transfer screening area, to ensure that they are tailored to meet travellers’ needs, before they are expanded to other security checkpoints.

Renowned for its family-friendly amenities, Hamad International Airport offers a range of facilities tailored to accommodate travellers with children. From play areas and baby changing rooms to family toilets designed to accommodate children, the airport insists that it prioritises convenience, privacy and comfort for families.

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