Passenger Experience

Bahrain leads the way with inaugural Airports Arabia Conference

By Dan Wong, Assistant Professor, Aviation Management Prince Sultan University, Saudi Arabia

In IATA’s recent March 2015 Air Passenger Market Analysis, the Middle East region was reported to continue experiencing strong growth in terms of both international and domestic air travel in terms of both Revenue-Passenger-Kilometers (RPK) and Available-Seat-Kilometers (ASK) above industry norms for the one-year period from March 2014 to 2015. The geographic location of the major hub airports in the Middle East to destinations in Africa, Asia and Europe, combined with increased air travel demand within the Middle East, will continue to make the Middle East a thriving airline marketplace in the foreseeable future.

As the airlines within the Middle East continue to build up their aircraft fleets to meet projected air travel demands, airport operators throughout the Middle East are also having to contend with issues in conjunction with developing sufficient airport infrastructure to accommodate the increases in both air passenger volumes and aircraft traffic both now and into the future. In light of these challenges faced by Middle East airport operators, while also embracing the desire to improve the air passenger’s travel experience, the Bahrain Society of Engineers, in association with the Federation of Arab Engineers, convened the first Airports Arabia Conference in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

In addition to my paper on The Integration of Governance into Airport Terminal Designs Supporting Ground Transportation Services, over 20 papers from academics, airport executives and aviation industry professionals from around the world were presented to the 170+ delegates in attendance on various aspects of airport development. A panel discussion was integrated into the program on the challenges facing airport development projects. Significant discussions and networking opportunities also ensued during the many coffee breaks and meals among all of the attendees regarding airport development issues.

Many of those attending believed that both the subject matter and the particular venue of the conference was a long time coming given the challenges Middle East airport operators are facing in light of the increasing importance of civil aviation to the economic development and growth of the region, as well as the sheer increase in the numbers of air passengers and aircraft traffic both currently experienced and projected to experience in the near future. I believe that more conferences in the Middle East region are needed allowing for more fruitful conversations between academics, airport operators and aviation industry professionals to better facilitate the current and future aviation infrastructure needs in the Middle East. Given the increasing interconnectivity of much of the world by way of the Middle East, the impacts of these exchanges may very well influence the future of air travel for a significant percentage of the world’s population for years to come

About Dan
Dr. Dan Wong is currently an Assistant Professor of Aviation Management at Prince Sultan University. Originally born and raised in Northeastern Iowa, Dan was conferred a PhD for his pioneering research work in airport planning from Queensland University of Technology. He has since been a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Aviation at the University of Central Missouri prior to his current position in Saudi Arabia. Dan is well known for traveling the world looking for adventure, knowledge and life experiences with his wife, Donna, and their large Maine Coon cat. Dan can be reached by e-mail at: dwong@psu.edu.sa.

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