GCC Airports to invest in safety technology upgrades

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New Doha International Airport
Computer generated image of the New Doha International Airport.

According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), Middle East airports are expected to be handling nearly 400 million passengers per year by 2020 and constant development and upgrades to the security system are needed to deliver a better travellers’ experience.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are doing just that by investing millions of dollars in airports technology and system upgrades to ensure seamless and safer passenger and freight movement as they take on world competition by strongly emerging as the new global travel hubs.

Ahli, Director General, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), said: “Safety of passengers/ freight and infrastructure security is not, and should not be, of a transit nature, but a constantly evolving requirement. The authorities face the challenges of adopting effective safety measures whilst limiting the inconvenience to the passengers. An airport is always judged by its security and service standards. It’s crucial to adopt innovative technology, improve security and streamline efficiencies to offer a seamless passenger travel experience.”

Major General Ahmad Mohammad Bin Thani, Director of General Department for Airport Security at Dubai Police, said: “The huge investment in security at airports runs parallel with their massive expansions. It is a 24/7 challenge to ensure extensive and effective security. As Dubai Airport grows, we also grow in terms of safety and security facilities, benefitting from the latest technology and best practices from across the world. We are also developing the professional capabilities of our human resources through training. The region could become a global model for airports security through a perfect mix of technology and strategies.”

He said the safety and security infrastructure at the Dubai International utilises about 7000 latest cameras across various facilities at the world’s third biggest airport for international passengers.

According to Hussein Dabbas, Regional Vice President, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said pragmatic approach is the key to successful aviation security.

“We need to balance the need to reduce risk with the need to preserve the speed and efficiency with which aviation transports 3 billion passengers and 50 million tonnes of cargo worldwide each year,” he said, explaining that these numbers are set to grow – particularly in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and other developing markets.

“So a one-size-fits-all approach to airport security isn’t going to work. The industry is working with governments to implement solutions. IATA’s Checkpoint of the Future programme is designed to strengthen security, increase efficiency, and improve the passenger experience. It will do this through a combination of new technology and by focusing on deploying resources where they will have the biggest impact in reducing risk.”

As open and public spaces that are visited by millions of people, airports are particularly vulnerable to challenges and risks. At the same time, airports are striving to offer passengers the highest quality of services and turn the time they spend at airports into a pleasant and rewarding experience. Therefore, there is an imperative need to find solutions that will upscale processes and provide maximum safety & security without disrupting the passengers’ experience.

A report by Frost & Sullivan said US$86 billion will be spent by Middle East airports in expansion plans until the year 2025. Global spending on Aviation security was estimated to be about $22.3bn in 2012, according to the Aviation Security Market Report 2012-2022.

In the longer term, Middle East spending on aviation security is expected to increase sharply to meet the demand for new technology systems.

Among the key categories of aviation security technologies to be watched over in the coming years are Passenger and Baggage Screening, Perimeter and Access Control, Digital Surveillance and Biometrics. While the UAE has emerged as one of the top investors in airport security, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are not far behind. The Middle East airports deploy the most sophisticated systems and spending in this sector will continue to boom.

According to Martin Palmer, Business Director, Middle East Region, SICK Automation International, one of the exhibitors at the Airport Show, to be held in Dubai in May, the challenges for the airports are to maximise the degree of automation of detection systems, guarantee their reliability, augment and introduce safety and security technologies and solutions that ensures seamless movement of passengers at the airports.

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