Anita Mehra, Senior Vice President, Communication and Reputation at Dubai Airports, indicated the importance of the Airport Solutions Dubai event during her welcome address stating, “All of us here, in terms of airports, whether is it is Amsterdam, Heathrow or Dubai, face the same challenges of growth and infrastructure. We all need to use solutions like technology to improve the customer experience, so that they have great experiences at our airports.” She added the importance of working together to seek solutions to allow airports and businesses to grow.
Speaking at Airport Solutions Dubai, Ben Wagenaar, Innovation Technologist at Heathrow Airport told the audience how the need for resilience, to be risk adverse and prioritise safety and security above everything else drives innovation at Heathrow Airport. He also stressed the importance of good technology partners when designing and implementing such systems.
“At the start of our last regulated period, iPads didn’t even exist, let alone how we might think about mobile computing,” Wagenaar said, illustrating how the incredible pace of change can affect airport operations. He explained, “Our IT team is made up of several specialists in terms of infrastructure, cloud computing, service etc. But there were no processes for developing apps or mobilising workforces, skillsets that were not core disciplines in our department in the past.”
“Digital leverages data and products to create new business models,” said Henk Jan Gerzee, Chief Digital Officer, Royal Schiphol Group. “With limited physical space and a tight labour market, digital solutions are increasingly important to ensure better, faster and cost-effective airport performance. In the case of disruptions, for example, providing correct and relevant information through digital channels is essential.” He added that in 2017, Schipol Group reached one-third of departing passengers using new technology, and this penetration is expected to increase.
Speaking at Cargo Connect were Faisal Al Mulla, Director of Cargo Business Management, Dubai Airports; Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo, Emirates SkyCargo; and Abdulla Bin Damithan, CCO, DP World. Al Mulla detailed the incredible growth in the cargo industry in the region from the 19th century when trade from the UAE consisted of just a few commodities, through the creation of Cargo Village as the first hub in the region to become one of the four largest cargo airports in the world. “We as industry leaders are ready to move the entire supply chain through methods others have not yet thought of,” he said, “to take this industry to where it has never gone before.”
“It is essential for us to have a forum like this in the region,” Sultan said of Cargo Connect. “We need to understand local and regional challenges and address critical issues. Coming together today we can link the entire logistics value chain both now and future in the region.”
His thoughts were echoed by Abdulla Bin Damithan, CCO of DP World. “The most exciting thing in the cargo industry today is technology.” He continued, “Dubai has created one of the fastest growing cargo hubs in the world, bringing unmatched economic development driven by new technologies: big data, automation.”
Bin Damithan mentioned that drones could be delivering parcels and even people in the near future, pointing out that businesses cannot remain stagnant and that early adoption of technology and being smarter through automation, connectivity can help to minimise loss of efficiencies.
“The Middle East is a focal point for the whole aerospace industry,” said Rachel Sturgess, Portfolio Director at Tarsus F&E LLC Middle East. She continued, “Recent project announcements have demonstrated the potential of projects in the region, and today has shown that Airport Solutions Dubai and Cargo Connect are at the heart of industry learning. With the growth in passenger and cargo traffic in the region both recently and predicted for the near future, there really is a need for airport operators to prepare now for the growth.”
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