The Airport Show is the world’s largest annual airport exhibition, and for the last 17 years it has attracted a large slice of the industry. Daniyal Qureshi, group exhibition director of the show for Reed Exhibitions Middle East, the event organiser, tells Airside what we have to look forward to between 7th and 9th May this year
Will this year’s show be building on the success of 2017 and prior annual exhibitions?
Yes, we are happy about the progress of the Airport Show and the event saw a 10% increase in visitors in 2017. It has remained successful right from the beginning, in 2001. The debut edition had 90 exhibitors from 17 countries and the show visitors numbered about 1,400 from 35 countries.
Ten years later, it had 4,700 attendees from 63 countries, in addition to witnessing a 7% increase in exhibitors. As many as 34 countries participated in the event. The last show had over 300 exhibitors from 40 countries and attracted 7,095 visitors.
In 2018 we are expecting 7,500 attendees and 350 exhibiting companies from 90 countries.
Every edition of the show has been a stand out with the number of exhibitors and attendees on an upward trend.
What will be different this year? What have you learnt from previous shows that will feed into the coming event?
Almost everywhere, especially in the Middle East and Arabian Gulf regions, airports are acquiring technology fast enough to be trendy and head-and-shoulders above others.
This is why we have taken the decision to create a dedicated offering for two communities with this edition to really focus on what is current in these two sectors, as well as airports in general reflected in the main event.
And we always take into serious consideration the feedback of participants of the previous year/s when designing the format of the next year’s edition.
Will there be any particular industry themes that this year’s show will address?
Bringing in dedicated events for security and ATC [air traffic control] alongside the Airport Show is demonstrating to visitors that we are addressing some key subjects in the industry right now.
For example, the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) projects there will be 1.85 million flights per annum in the country in 2030 and the number of Middle East passengers will be reaching 517 million by 2036.
The global ATC equipment market will be worth $4.23 billion. Air Traffic Management (ATM) tops the chart of priorities for the airports and civil aviation authorities.
Several countries have remained active to adopt the required changes to manage the skies sufficiently for their air traffic. In the UAE alone, there will be over 5,200 daily air traffic movements projected by 2030. Dubai airports are expected to handle over 100 million passengers by 2020.
IATA expects 7.8 billion passengers to travel in 2036, a near doubling of the four billion air travellers expected to fly in 2017. Moreover, a 10-year outlook by Oliver Wyman says that the in-service commercial airline fleet is forecast to grow from 25,368 aircraft to 35,501 by 2027. A whopping $1.1 trillion in airport infrastructure projects are planned or under way, globally. The Middle East has the second lowest investment level overall, after North America. However, investment at existing airports is high in the Middle East, exceeding that of Europe and North America.
So, does the show’s location in Dubai represent a significant advantage for it, do you think?
Yes, Dubai is at the crossroads of East and West. Besides the geographical advantage, it has remained a perfect place to learn about how to take advantage of aviation for an area’s socio-economic growth. It remains in the midst of airport expansion and wants to be amongst the world’s top airport hubs by 2025.
If you see the spectacular growth of Airport Show – and also the Dubai Airshow – over the years, you will realise that Dubai is a perfect place to be in if you want to reach out to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA). Industry players look to Dubai to benchmark a number of aviation-related facilities and services. According to CAPA’s Construction and Capital Expenditure Database, there are currently over 2,300 airport construction projects worldwide, varying in investment from $1 million to $20 billion, and over 300 new (green or brown field, or general aviation extension) airport developments.
The aviation industry has generally had a good year; will that be reflected in the success of events such as this one?
Last year, the aviation industry performed well and it is expected to do so this year as well. A good airport reflects well on a place, its reputation and its economy.
In order to ensure seamless and secure travel experiences through airports, governments and industry leaders are emphasising the need to work more towards wider passenger engagement, systems integration and effective and extensive use of technology.
Technology is no longer just an option. Technology is a necessity to ensure security, fast movement and comfort of passengers. Forecasts by experts and stakeholders suggest that airlines in the Middle East plan to invest $450 billion to increase the size of their fleets by 160% by 2030.