Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Airports, The New Differentiator

As competition rages between the three GCC carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways the need for airport capacity becomes more evident. The primary requirement is not only to handle the increasing number of passengers but to provide a satisfying travel experience. As the level of on board services becomes ever so close, the differentiation shifts to the airport experience.

On January 13, The Director General of Qatar Civil Aviation Authority announced that the new Doha airport will be renamed Hamad International Airport and will start full operation in the second half of 2013. However, flights not requiring lounge access will start operating from April 1, 2013.
Qatar Airways will move in as soon as Lounges are completed.

Dubai Airports having  just started soft operation of the new Concourse A, a part of Terminal 3 complex  designed solely to handle A380 aircraft, announced yesterday, 14 January a major project to revamp Terminal 1. The project starts in Q1 2013 and is scheduled for completion at the end of 2014. The upgrade includes streamlined baggage screening, new departure check in desks, all the airport retail and food areas and the arrival halls; basically a full radical facelift. The idea is to enhance the travelling experience. The revamped terminal will be linked to Concourse D, currently under construction by an elevated train system.

Abu Dhabi Airport Company awarded the contract for the Midfield Terminal Complex in Abu Dhabi International Airport on June 2012. The complex located between the two runways will be completed by 2017. The Terminal Complex will have a passenger terminal, cargo and duty free facilities capable to handle up to forty  million passengers annually.

The importance of the airport experience is not lost in the region with airports like Dubai and Abu Dhabi already offering free wi-fi providing connectivity to passengers in addition to restaurants, food courts, lounges, a hotel and shopping experiences in their duty free areas.

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