Jul. 11, 2021


Badr Al-Meer

Qatar

Badr Al-Meer

COO, Hamad International Airport (HIA)

HIA's expansion will play a significant role in enhancing the multi-dimensional offerings of the five-star airport and delivering its promise of becoming the airport of the future.

BIO

Badr Al-Meer has been COO at HIA since 2014. He is responsible for the running of the entity that leads and manages the day-to-day operations of one of the world's state-of-the-art airport hubs. Prior to joining HIA, he served nine years in United Development Company (UDC), one of Qatar's leading public shareholding companies. As an accomplished professional with more than 10 years of experience in construction and project management, he has held executive positions and board member seats in some of Qatar's largest development projects. Al-Meer holds degrees in engineering from the American University of Beirut and the University of Colorado


How is HIA preparing for the reactivation of the economy and the resumption of flights?

HIA's successful transformation of its airport experience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic was fueled by a robust business continuity plan that prioritized the health and well-being of staff and passengers while keeping the airport's doors open to repatriate stranded passengers and deliver essential goods across the globe. The airport optimized its operations with smart solutions to rise to the challenges presented by the pandemic. HIA invested in Smart Screening Helmets, which are wearable intelligent helmets that are portable, safe, and effective in enabling contactless temperature measurement. HIA also introduced UV disinfectant robots, which are fully autonomous mobile devices, emitting concentrated UV-C light, effective in eliminating the majority of infectious microorganisms and are being deployed in vulnerable high passenger flow areas to reduce the spread of pathogens. In addition, HIA installed C2 technology, the latest security screening system, which acts as a significant COVID-19 counter measure by reducing possible cross-contamination in passenger carry-on bags. Inbound luggage is likewise sanitized by the airport's UV-C disinfection tunnels. Moreover, HIA was the first airport to trial an innovative cabin baggage X-ray screening system that utilizes UV-C disinfectant lights retrofitted into the scanners' trail return systems. The airport also pioneered its own technological solutions. Using computer vision and AI, HIA's internal teams developed an automated facial detection system to ensure the wearing of masks. The home-grown technology was rapidly integrated into HIA's thermal scanning stations. The implementation of such technologies elevates the airport's hygiene standards by limiting human contact at security checkpoints, making the process safer and faster for both staff and passengers.

What is your assessment of the improvements to customer experience that this phase will bring to HIA?

The airport's multi-phase expansion project will enhance its position as the preferred gateway for travel while accommodating the success and growth of its national carrier, Qatar Airways. Hence, it is a direct investment into the country's future. Catering to Qatar's thriving economic diversification and development, the expansion will play a significant role in delivering HIA's promise of the airport-of-the-future by enhancing the multi-dimensional offerings of the five-star airport. It will integrate world-class art, a refreshing environment of lush greenery, contemporary retail and dining concepts and leisure attractions and facilities under one expansive terminal. The greenery will be introduced to reduce the stress of travel and inspire positive emotions among travelers. HIA will feature a 10,000-sqm indoor tropical garden and 268-sqm water feature. The expansion design will allow passenger flow to seamlessly tie up with the existing terminal and at the same time, improve the overall passenger experience by minimizing travel distances for connections, as well as providing clear and intuitive wayfinding as passengers move through the lush rainforest. HIA is a standout among other airports of its size for the fact that it operates under one expansive terminal, giving it a competitive edge in terms of managing operations. The airport's expansion will also be part of that same terminal. This helps HIA easily guide passengers toward a specific journey.

What are your strategic priorities for 2021 and 2022?

As airlines reinstate their flights and border restrictions start to ease, HIA has already put critical measures in place to ensure a cautious recovery, while maintaining the safety and wellbeing of all staff and passengers. The airport is working toward the normalization of travel in the safest way possible. The latest set of measures adopted by the airport works toward regaining passenger trust and rebuilding confidence in air travel. Nonetheless, Qatar's airport is also heading in a direction of growth and development with the airport's expansion plans. The expansion of HIA is a vital part of the future success of the Qatar Airways Group. HIA will continue to invest in infrastructure and cutting-edge technology to provide tailored solutions that address the ever-changing traveler needs and wants, especially against the backdrop of the pandemic.

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