1,405 industry experts attend ACI Airport Exchange hosted by Oman Airports Management Company

Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), which is responsible for the management and operations of the new $1.8 billion Muscat International Airport, Salalah Airport, and other regional airports in the Sultanate of Oman, last week hosted the 11th ACI Airport Exchange, staged jointly by ACI EUROPE, ACI Asia-Pacific and ACI World.

Inspired by the Oman Airports Management Company five-year transformation strategy “Growing gateways to beauty and opportunity”, the theme of this year’s event was “Leading airports towards operational excellence, profitability and customer service”. This was reflected in all five conference streams – The Keynote Arena, Security & Crisis Management, Airport Operations, Digital Innovation & Big Data, and Airport Development. These were complemented by a broad exhibition of more than 50 companies showcasing their latest innovations, services and solutions, as well as a fantastic social programme laid on by the host, OAMC.

Here we present some of the highlights of the event:

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Sheikh Aimen Ahmed Al Hosni, CEO, Oman Airports Management Company, welcomed delegates. “With hopes and aspirations, we look forward to seeing this major ACI conference making key and principal recommendations that would help the decision-makers to draw up successful policies and draft clear plans for a promising future,” he said.

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Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI EUROPE, set the scene with his State of the Industry presentation. In the period January to September 2017, overall passenger traffic grew +8.9%, with EU traffic up +8.2% and non-EU traffic up +11.8%. Jankovec also discussed hub connectivity and the evolving nature of airport competition.

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Patti Chau, Regional Director, ACI Asia-Pacific, set the scene with regards to the Asia-Pacific region. She focused on increasing airport capacity and passenger growth in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. According to the ACI Global Traffic Report 2031, traffic volume will double in 15 years, reaching 15.7 billion passengers and 171 million tonnes of cargo. Chau also emphasised core values such as safety, security, environmental sustainability and innovation.

The conference also saw Salalah Airport achieving Level 1 Mapping of ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation, while Muscat International Airport progressed to Level 2 Reduction.

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During the Global Leaders Masterclass Part 1, Dr. Sani Şener, President & CEO, TAV Airports, focused on TAV’s “smart growth” strategy. Commenting on the aftermath of the terrorist attack at Istanbul Ataturk Airport on 28 June 2016, Şener described the airport’s response and its effort to overcome challenges and achieve further growth.

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Badr Mohammed Al Meer, COO Hamad International Airport (HIA), delivered a keynote address on the airport’s swift and effective response during Qatar’s diplomatic crisis and its ability to maintain operational excellence in challenging times. In the past six months, HIA has added six new airlines and 14 new destinations. The airport is also gearing up to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup by accelerating its expansion plans and investing in cutting-edge technologies in order to deliver a friction-free travel experience.

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Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, CEO Bahrain Airport Company, delivered a keynote address on “Bahrain’s $1 billion Airport Modernisation Programme, and the aim of elevating the airport’s infrastructure and services in line with the highest levels of safety, security, technology and environmental standards”.

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Kjeld Binger, CEO, Airport International Group, discussed Queen Alia International Airport’s strategic vision to become the airport of choice in the region and to build global connections for Jordan.

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P S Nair, CEO – Corporate, GMR Airports Ltd, focused on GMR’s place in the world’s major airport groups.

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HE Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, together with Sheikh Aimen bin Ahmed Al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airports Management Company; Patti Chau, Regional Director, ACI Asia-Pacific; and Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI EUROPE, officially opened the 11th ACI Airport Exchange exhibition, which featured leading suppliers and innovative solution providers from every aspect of the industry.

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Sylvain Lefoyer, Deputy Director, Aviation Security and Facilitation, Air Transport Bureau, ICAO, set the scene in the Security & Crisis Management Summit by providing a global view of security threats and challenges. He also focused on the work being undertaken by ICAO, states and industry relating to strengthening the implementation of standards, audit, oversight and capacity building.

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The Airport Operations Conference provided a platform for discussion around the ways in which new technologies and facilities can really deliver the efficiencies and capacities airports need to achieve operational excellence. To open the stream, Peter Hotham, Deputy Executive Director, SESAR Joint Undertaking, focused on remote towers and the digitalisation of Middle Eastern and European ATM infrastructure.

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During his keynote presentation in the Digital Innovation & Big Data Conference, Huawei Enterprise Business Group’s Director, Xi Lin, delivered fascinating insights into Chinese airports’ intensive pursuit of digital transformation and the requirement for comprehensive application of new technology as part of the desire to create “smart airports”.

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Alison Fitzgerald, COO, London City Airport, discussed the airport’s remote tower concept and “why augmented reality is the real game-changer”, during the Airport Operations Conference stream.

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The First Working Session in the Digital Innovation & Big Data Conference examined “Technologies and customer experience: are airports and airlines meeting travellers’ expectations?”. Moderated by Neil Pakey, Chair, Regional and Business Airports Group (RABA), the panel also included Xi Lin, Director, Huawei Enterprise Business Group; Carlos Kaduoka, Director Consulting, SITA; Thomas Hoff Andersson, Director of Passenger and Terminal Services, Copenhagen Airport and Rapporteur of the ACI EUROPE Task Force on Border Control; and Jurgen Renner, Project Lead – Level of Service, IATA.

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David Wilson, COO, Oman Airports Management Company, provided an insight into the new $1.8 billion Muscat International Airport, during the First Working Session in the Airport Development Conference.

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Sheikh Khalid bin Hilal Al Yahmadi, CEO, Muscat National Development & Investment Company (ASAAS) and Chairman, SalamAir, delivered the closing keynote presentation. He placed an emphasis on the Omani aviation market and the potential it carries for a low-cost carrier focusing on captive demand and transfer passengers.

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Harj Dhaliwal, Managing Director of Middle East and India, Hyperloop One, delivered the finale at this year’s ACI Airport Exchange. In an insightful address he told attendees: “Hyperloop One is not here to compete with airports, but to augment them.”

The event included a diverse ACI Airport Exchange exhibition of over 50 exhibiting companies specialising in airport services and equipment.

OAMC hosted two spectacular social events – a Welcome Reception at Azaiba Beach and a Gala Dinner at the Royal Opera House Muscat.

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