CAPA Global Airport Leaders’ Forum Summary

CAPA’s Global Airport Leaders’ Forum was hosted last month and included a variety of high profile industry leaders discussing topical issues related to aviation.

Below is a summary of the key points raised during the event.

Macquarie Bank

Macquarie Bank division director Peter Farthing, stated:

  • The institution completed a bond capital raising programme for Virgin Atlanticfor GBP252 million senior secured note. Mr Farthing noted “It is the first of its kind in Europe”;
  • Chinais currently trialling secondary slot trading at Guangzhou Baiyun and Shanghai Pudong Mr Farthing noted secondary trading is quite documented in Europe but its occurring quite often “under the radar”;

Airport Coordination Limited  

Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) MD Christopher Bosworth, stated:

  • “The way we see slot coordination in UK, there is nothing stopping us to deliver slot trading”;
  • “We have a problem of clustering of airports in the UK”. Mr Bosworth added: “As much as we talk about addressing capacity on the ground… we need to address the bigger issue of restraints in airspace”;

European Commission

European Commission deputy director general MOVE Matthew Baldwin, stated:

  • “Capacity restraints” contribute to an approximate EUR30-50 billion loss to overall GDP p/a;
  • The commission is “seeing a lot of collaboration in” Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM). However, Mr Baldwin noted airlines have a “tough time but need to be consistent in their messages… we need to see a little bit of the big picture”.
  • 30% of projects in the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) is considering airports.

Amadeus IT Pacific

Amadeus global director of business development & SDBM Iyad Hindiyeh, stated:

  • “There is no clear collaboration between parties”, noting “that data sits locally.” However, Mr Hindiyeh advised: “There is a bit of shifting in the industry… as airports are seeing what the early adopters are doing”;
  • There should be some focus on managing airspace in the Gulf region. Mr Hindiyeh noted 20% of the airspace is utilised for civil aircraft;
  • Limited system collaboration contributes to airport capacity constraints. Mr Hindiyeh stated: “We have very strong initiative for these system to collaborate… this allows the airport and airport operators to have the visibility to address these issues”;

Arab Air Carriers Organization

Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) secretary general Abdul Wahab Teffaha, stated:

  • “Most of the technology, 95% has been driven by economics.” Mr Teffaha also stated airlines and air transport service providers “have taken a leap of faith with IATAand ICAO”, the industry requires leadership from other stakeholders and “especially the governments for the environmental objectives to be met”;
  • “The IATAagenda is very comprehensive… if I want to take it a notch higher, from a global standard, airlines want three things [from the airports] – be customer friendly, address what the airline needs, and the third one, the airport has to be environmentally friendly”. According to Mr Teffaha: “If you look at what’s happening in the [Gulf] region, we are on the right track with customer friendliness and responding airlines”. However, with the environment it is of “global concern” which requires a global commitment.

Dubai Airports

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths, stated:

  • Airports are driving the GDP of Dubai, noting the operations of Dubai airports contribute to 27% of the city’s GDP in 2013. Mr Griffiths expects the proportion to increase to 45% of total GDP in 2030, providing 35% of total employment with approximately 1.2 million jobs;
  • The company believes the smart application of processes and technology will improve capacity and service quality. According to Mr Griffiths: “the idea of getting rid of queues is something that airports should focus on”, as “leveraging technology” delivers efficiencies in passenger transactions.
  • Dubai is well positioned and “global centric” in terms of aviation, with over 60% of the world’s population living within an eight hour flight time.
  • Long term factors such as “technology, urbanisation, economic balance of power and resource scarcity” will affect the ability of Dubai Airports to deliver the objectives set in its 2050 Airport Master Plan.
  • The company plans to increase capacity at Dubai International Airportto 118 million passengers by 2023. Dubai Airports also plans to develop Dubai World Central to a handling capacity of 120 million passengers p/a, following the completion of phase two works in 2025;
  • “97% of visitors to the UAEarrive by air, and [Dubai international Airport] is the main gateway to Dubai and UAE”;
  • “In the airport sector… we are in the centre of attention for our audacious targets”. Mr Griffiths advised the company is “taking the long view” by developing an airport master plan to 2050. According to Mr Griffiths: “What we are trying to do here is facilitate the growth in GDP and the growth of infrastructure”;
  • “As an airport it is important to know where the stakeholders want to go”, noting Dubai International Airporthas provided an option for green card holders to enter the country;
  • Its “concession agreement with the government is to develop the grounds around Muscat Airport”. Sheikh Al-Hosni noted “it is still a work in progress”, but expects to “reach” its deadline of 2Q2017;
  • “We have doubled our net profits between 2014 and 2017” and expects “triple net profit growth” in the following year.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines CCO Akif Konar, stated

  • New technologies will be introduced at Istanbul New Airport, as part of its “customer in focus & in centre” strategy. The airline plans to install biometric measures, self bag drop services and airport mapping and navigational aids to passengers;
  • The airline plans to deliver a network of lounges at the Istanbul New Airport. Mr Konar advised the airline will develop five different types of lounges at the airport, including an exclusive lounge, main business lounges, pier lounges, arrival lounges and domestic lounges;
  • The airline will have a “campus concept” with operational buildings in the Istanbul New Airport, due to be in service in 2018. A cargo building, maintenance facility, ground operations building, crew terminal and catering facility are planned for the new airport;
  • “Slot restrictions” at airports have affected capacity growth. Mr Konar advised Turkish Airlines is investing in the Istanbul New Airport to “deliver new facilities for our operations and improving the passenger experience”. The new development is expected to “encourage” growth in long haul and short haul network development, develop a more preferred scheduling structure and improve cost efficiencies;
  • New extension plans have commenced at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, noting “some of them are completed thanks to TAV Group”. Mr Konar noted “capacity increased by approximately 20%” with the completion of phased works;
  • “265 destinations are served from Istanbul Ataturk Airport” as of Apr-2017, “making it the largest number of nonstop connections in the world”;
  • The carrier operates to approximately 120 countries, “more than any other airline in the world”;
  • The contribution of aviation to Turkey’s overall GDP is 6% in 2015, above the global average of 3.2%. The overall contribution of the aviation industry to the country’s GDP will increase to 7% by 2034, according to Mr Konar.

CAPA – Centre for Aviation

CAPA – Centre for Aviation executive chairman Peter Harbison, stated:

  • “Uncertainty would typically stifle growth but it has not”, noting “the market is holding up for now”. However, Mr Harbison advised the USis increasingly “looking inwards” on issues such as immigration and administrative intervention. Also, markets such as the Middle East and Asia are “uncertain” with their respective political issues;
  • Chinahas provided a ‘gentle disruption’, as it is a large market has a “rapidly growing domestic market”;
  • “Interestingly the market which has more LCC aircraft orders than any other country is India”. According to the CAPA Fleet Database, the Asia Pacific region has placed the majority of global LCC aircraft orders, representing approximately 52%, with 2215 aircraft;

UAE General Civil Aviation Authority

UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) deputy director general Omar bin Ghaleb, stated:

  • That “by 2025, [GCAA] hopes that the UAE will achieve the top rank in the air transport sector”, up from its “second place in the current index”. Mr Ghaleb further stated: “We will back up our position with the most state of the art infrastructure in the world”;
  • The aviation industry in 2025 “will be different to today”, noting factors such as capacity, security and aviation technology will be the key drivers to development;
  • The UAE plans to develop Dubai World Central(Al Maktoum Airport) as the “world’s largest airport”, with five runways, and the capacity to handle 220 million passengers and 60 million tonnes of cargo p/a;
  • “Positive and challenging” are two key words than underpin the country’s Aviation Outlook 2025.