20 seconds per passenger: How Dubai will welcome 100m in 2020

The number of participants has doubled from last year. (File)

The UAE has an ‘outstanding’ aviation infrastructure and its airports are globally ‘recognised’ for having the most-advanced infrastructure and technology and for facilitating a seamless experience for arriving and transiting passengers, said Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy and Chairman of General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

“This recognition is well reflected in the increasing number of passenger using our airports, that for example resulted in Dubai International Airport claiming the first place for international passenger movements in 2014 and the rapid growth in passenger numbers in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah airports,” he said.

Major General Obaid Mohair bin Suroor, Deputy Director General of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA-Dubai), said with Dubai airports projected to receive over 100 million passengers by 2020, the GDRFA-Dubai plans to launch an Advance Passenger Information System (APIS).

Dubai had direct passenger flight connections to 149 cities with populations of over one million people, creating potential export markets of over 916 million people, or 13 per cent of the world’s population.

The APIS aims to raise the security at airports and at the same time reduce the time of passenger-checking procedures to less than 20 seconds. The first phase of APIS will start with the First and Business class passengers of Emirates airline.

Gradually, it will expand to include the Economy class passengers. At a later stage, the government will circulate guidelines to all the airlines to follow the suit and benefit from the APIS. GDRFA-Dubai will be also be launching APIS for cruise tourists by mid-2015.

In 1986, the UAE airspace saw just 342 daily aircraft movements, while in 2014, it had an average of 2,250 daily aircraft movements, over six times the number that the UAE had when the airspace was created.

For 2030, the GCAA anticipates over 5,100 daily aircraft movements, making the UAE one of the busiest airspaces in the world. The number of aircraft registered in the UAE has reached 762 in 2014 and UAE airlines have 604 aircraft on order until 2030, Al Mansoori disclosed.

The UAE airports, while complying with the highest international safety and security standards, offer seamless processing at safety checkpoints and immigration, e-Gate technology and in the case of Abu Dhabi airport, a pioneering security and immigration preclearance to US destinations, said Al Mansoori, who will be speaking at the Future of Borders International Conference in Dubai.

The GCAA early this year opened its Advance Passenger Information (API) Center in Abu Dhabi, which, according to Al Mansoori, will play a role in maintaining the security of UAE’s borders by accessing and assessing information of arriving, departing and transiting passengers by air, sea and land ports. The API Center is using the state-of-art technology tools and latest technical regulations.

He added: “The UAE has always supported integration as a two-way process and the API Center is a UAE project which works closely with all airports and immigration authorities, which reflects the excellent cooperation between all entities.”

With the UAE visitors’ growing knowledge of using smart technology and eSystems, the UAE has been investing heavily in enhancing its airports’ smart gate practice, online check systems, do-it-yourself luggage methods, among others, which directly shrinks the time-consuming parts for a traveller, he remarked.

He said national and regional cooperation regarding safety and security, investing in technology as well as educating the general public are all vital in order to facilitate the passengers’ demands while investing in capacity building.

Angela Gittens, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI World), who will also speak at the Future of Borders conference, said: “It is truly remarkable to see the progress that Dubai has made over the years to become the world-class centre of aviation that it is today. Dubai is exemplary of the heights that can be reached when governments fully support aviation and understand its potential to be a powerful driver of social and economic progress.”

Referring to challenges, she said developing adequate infrastructure to deal with increasing passenger numbers has to be a major priority. “If the structures themselves aren’t equipped to handle the number of passengers flying in and out, efficiency will almost certainly suffer,” she added.

It is also important to point out that security processes can be improved, which will positively impact efficiency. Better security and more efficient security are not mutually exclusive ideas. We can achieve both and ACI, along with industry partners, was working diligently towards this goal, she remarked.

Angela said: “Airports are no longer simply points of departure and arrival; they are highly complex businesses in their own right which require the coordination of a vast number of stakeholders if safety, security and efficiency are to be maximized. If one piece of the puzzle is out of sync there are often far-reaching consequences.”

 

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