CRACK IT, SWITCH, UPDATE IT

Abu Dhabi 2017 | AEROSPACE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Abdul Majeed Al Khoori, Acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports, on the initiatives behind the airport's growth and the technology that can be expected in the new terminal building.

Abdul Majeed Al Khoori
BIOGRAPHY
Abdul Majeed Al Khoori joined Abu Dhabi Airports in 2007, and is Acting CEO. Prior to taking on this role in June 2016, Al Khoori served as CFO for nine years and was key in turning the company around financially into a profit-making organization. Prior to joining Abu Dhabi Airports, Al Khoori worked with leading organizations such as Thuraya Satellite Telecommunication, UAE Central Bank, and National Drilling Company (NDC), which is part of ADNOC Group.

With an expected 24 million passengers passing through Abu Dhabi Airport in 2016, how would you assess the airport's role as a regional hub?

The consistent increase in passenger traffic is emblematic of Abu Dhabi's status as an international hub for commerce and tourism, and as a transit point connecting all corners of the world. After record-breaking figures in 2015, passenger figures at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) have continued to increase, reaching 11 million between January and June, representing a 6.6% increase compared to the first half of 2015. Having a world-class international airport plays a vital role in raising the profile of the Emirate and enables the diversification of Abu Dhabi's economy by fostering growth across industries through increased connectivity.

How will Abu Dhabi Airports' activities contribute to the objectives of Abu Dhabi 2030 Vision to propel touristic activities and raise the number of visitors?

Aviation and aerospace are among the key growth sectors identified by the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, and we are committed to supporting this vision. Abu Dhabi Airports has strong relationships with a host of industry stakeholders and works closely with the Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA), the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), and Etihad Airways. We highlight events such as the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi Air Expo, and Abu Dhabi Summer Season, promoting them via strategic activations across all our terminals. Currently, Abu Dhabi Airports is focusing on developing capacity at Abu Dhabi International Airport and on the construction of the Midfield Terminal Building (MTB.) The MTB is a vital enabler of the diversification of the Emirate's economy. It will foster growth in other industries through improved connectivity and further develop tourism by increasing the airport's overall capacity, allowing more airlines and more passengers to use our facilities, raising the overall capacity to 45 million passengers per year.

What new technology has been introduced to the airport's facilities and what other innovations are you looking to develop?

The MTB will have the very latest technology in every system that is installed, exceeding global standards. We recognize the need for smart solutions that can be implemented parallel to the construction of our new terminal, to improve capacity. In March this year, we launched the Smart Travel system, which allows passenger traveling through the airport to complete all their travel processes, from check-in to aircraft boarding, interacting only with technology. Implemented in partnership with the UAE's Ministry of Interior and Abu Dhabi Police, smart travel consists of five steps: self check-in, self-bag drop, e-registration, e-gate, and self boarding. The system reduces passenger processing times by up to 70%, meaning less time in queues for travelers and more time to enjoy the airport's facilities such as Duty Free shopping, spas, food and beverage outlets, the library, and children's play areas. This technology not only provides greater convenience for passengers, airlines, and the airport, it also improves security by giving a more accurate and reliable source of passenger data. A more advanced version of Smart Travel will be incorporated into the MTB, along with other IT-based solutions.

What are your targets for the next two years?

We always aim to grow our business commercially, improve our processes, and maintain high standards, all while delivering a world-class experience to our passengers. Abu Dhabi's growing economy and its increasing attraction as a place for tourists, businesses, and transit passengers creates the need for the best-quality transportation infrastructure to be available in the Emirate. This starts and finishes with the capital's airport, so it is vital for us to keep pace with the increasing inflow of passengers and offer them the best possible experience when they use our facilities. Over the next two years we will continue to invest in new technologies to cater for the key challenge of growing passenger traffic, and focus on finalizing our iconic new airport terminal.