Airport ground handling industry is in for revolutionary changes and innovations with electric/hybrid Ground Handling Equipment (GHE) and Ground Support Equipment (GSE) makers and service providers constantly embracing new technology to make airport operations efficient, sustainable and cost-effective.
Organisers of the 21st edition of the annual Airport Show from May 17 to 19 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) are creating a platform for airport operators, service providers, manufacturers and other stakeholders to familiarise the futuristic changes for the first time by setting up a sustainability zone called e-Apron alongside the Airport Show.
e-Apron is offered in partnership with dnata, a global provider of aircraft ground handling, cargo, travel and flight catering services across five continents and part of the Emirates Group.
e-Apron will provide opportunity for electric/hybrid Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and Ground Handling Equipment (GHE) manufacturers to showcase their latest innovations at the Show.
Organised by RX Global (Reed Exhibitons), the world’s largest airport industry B2B platform will have a sharp focus on sustainability to help the airport community in achieving a more sustainable airport industry that is aiming to reduce carbon foot print year on year.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, the three-day business and networking event will provide insights about airports facing the sustainability challenge and ways to overcome the challenges.
“Reducing the carbon footprint is a key target for dnata as a world-leading air and travel services provider at 129 airports. We expect exhibitors from across the world to be joining the efforts to make their operations sustainable to ensure a better future,” remarked Raed Younes, Vice President for UAE and Regional Business Development at dnata.
Firas Abu Ltaif, Exhibition Manager at RX Global (Reed Exhibitons), said: “The Airport Show added sustainability to its agenda as the airports on every continent have been focussing on ways to cope with the climate change challenges and looking for innovative products and services to achieve the goals.”
Several exhibitors have endorsed the Airport Show’s goal as they enthusiastically participate in the e-Apron Zone.
Ltaif thanked dnata for facilitating e-Apron which will support airports in their ‘green’ initiatives at a time when airports are looking at innovative, unconventional and alternative solutions to drive operational efficiency and achieve significant sustainability.
More than 90 airports are set to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 and another 242 airports have signed up to achieve that goal as they work towards modernizing their infrastructure to improve sustainability and resilience into the future.
The Airports Council International (ACI) has predicted global passenger traffic recovering by 2023-end to the 2019 levels. That future traffic rush prompted airports, especially in the Arabian Gulf and larger Middle East region, to sharply focus on their sustainability goals in the aviation industry along with ‘green’ goals of reducing the carbon footprint across all operations, given the vulnerability to climate changes than most regions due to limited water supplies and harsh summers.
The region is focusing more on ensuring its airports use environment-friendly reclaimed wood, daylighting systems and water treatment technologies. There is immense potential for businesses from across the world in the Middle East whose aviation market is predicted to reach the US$23.07 billion mark in 2026.
This timely and much-required shift in focus will help reduce the impact of carbon emissions, energy consumption, air and noise pollution, waste management and biodiversity.
Kalmar Motors, a Sweden-based world leader in technology for towbarless handling of aircraft and Electric and Hybrid power technology, said the industry has always focused on adapting, refocusing and aligning itself to new and changing conditions.
The Ground Handling industry is positioning itself for the influx in operations and at the same time making a positive change to Electric operations.
Sean Bryan, Technical Sales Manager at Kalmar Motor’s UK Office, said the company raised the bar since launching the fully electric-powered aircraft handling tractors to reduce CO2 emissions at airports and the first special towbar-less tractor powered with Lithium-Ion batteries. “We believe within the next five to seven years, all airlines and ground handling companies will be looking to fully electrify their GSE fleet”.
Colibri Energy, a German company that helps airports and ground handlers maximize efficiency through lithium technology, says Lithium-powered GSE is the future of the aviation industry as it has a proven, scalable and cost-saving technology to reduce GSE CO2 emissions by over 90 per cent.
“This year, we are launching a new generation lithium battery eco-system that will deliver over 40 per cent longer battery lifetime, cost-saving mechanisms and intelligent software for smart battery and fleet management,” said Kasimir Rantzau, Head of Business Development at Colibri Energy GmbH.
“ Ground handlers are actively replacing diesel-powered GSE with electric GSE and building more sustainable operations and reducing overall energy costs.”
Andreas Funk, COO / Sales Director at Cobus Industries, said his company sees the future of GSE with two main power sources: electric, which drives through batteries; and Hydrogen that drives through fuel cells. Which way operators go is depending on the charging/fueling infra-structure provided by the airports. Hybrid is not the preferable source for airports due to the specific operational requirements.”