Dubai Airports CEO Calls for New Approach on Airport IT

BRUSSELS, Belgium – June 24, 2010 – Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths today called on airlines, airports, retailers and information technology providers to break down the silo walls and collaborate on IT solutions that centre on passenger needs.

“IT providers can play a role in supporting a new approach to handle traffic growth that is estimated to top 5 billion passenger journeys globally by 2027,” said Griffiths in a speech delivered at the SITA Air Transport IT Summit held today in Brussels. “In Dubai, passenger numbers will grow from over 40 million today to 150 million by 2030. To accommodate that growth we are building what will one day be the biggest airport in the world - Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International featuring five runways and capacity for 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of freight. Today’s processes and technologies are desperately lacking. They simply won’t work at that scale.”

Griffiths said that over the entire passenger experience, airports are most vulnerable to service flaws as they rely on strong collaboration between an array of stakeholders including airlines, ground handlers, customs, immigration, security and retailers to name a few.

“The current travel experience at the airport is characterised by cumbersome and time-consuming airport processes. Silos have carved up the travel experience,” said Griffiths. “The lack of coordination at the links in the process has created queues. And ultimately that poor coordination boils down to a fundamental lack of trust. We need to change the mindset and the industry model."

Griffiths pointed to the need for vision, collaboration, customer-focused processes and the smart application technology to evolve service levels and put the industry on more sound financial footing. “Many airlines and airports cringe at the investment that is required to make this step change,” said Griffiths. “However, the cost of not changing is far more significant. Almost 50% of dwell time is absorbed by non-commercial processes at an opportunity cost as high as US$35 billion per annum. That money could help address the current imbalance seen across the aviation value chain that has led to US$50 billion in losses for airlines over the past decade."

“Imagine a future where the customer’s online booking, purchase, seat selection, advance passenger information and biometric data are recorded well in advance,” added Griffiths. “Baggage is checked in advance away from the airport. Biometric data is used to confirm passenger identification, assess security risk and is linked to passenger name record for baggage sequencing, check-in and boarding pass confirmation. Security scanning occurs simultaneously and unobtrusively. All of this occurs in minutes freeing up time for the customer to relax, dine or shop.”

Phase 1 of Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International opens for cargo operations on June 27.