© 2020 All rights reserved to Maaal Newspaper
Publisher: Maaal International Media Company
In March 2022, the President of General Authority of Civil Aviation -Mr Aldailej- has announced two key targets to be achieved by 2030. Such an announcement is a clearance for all aviation players to maintain a maximum rate of climb to the sky. Both of the targets are considered the key strategic drivers for the Saudi Arabian aviation industry to lead regional aviation reflecting the clear mind of the aviation leaders. The first target is “Airport capacity” where passengers number is to reach 330 million (100 million in the year 2019). The second one is the distention number targeted to be 250 by the year 2030 (100 as of now). The set targets are challenging ones but achievable if and only if the right initiatives are being identified and placed correctly. Such initiatives are (mainly, usually, basically) related to airline connectivity, airport marketing & operations, airport capacity, and effective coordination and communication with all the related government authorities. It is obvious that these targets are being set during an integrated strategy among tourism, Hajj, Trade, and transportation authorities with a clear understanding of the role of each party.
Although the two targets are challenging ones but the real challenges concern in the capacity of two main players; airports and air traffic management (ATM) which is provided by the Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS).
Airport Terminal Capacity:
As of today, the international airports have reached their capacity, indicating an urgent need to increase it by different acceptable practices until the new physical infrastructures are completed. Throughout aviation history, airports working over capacity resulted in limited-service delivery, impacting the public image of the airport and the country. Airport managers should learn from past mistakes, which is the driver of success.
The key term within the airport capacity is the time spent by passenger within airport terminal. The shorter the time the passenger spends, the bigger capacity the airport can obtain. The common practice to increase airport capacity is to shorten the passenger processing time at the check-in counters, security and inspection, and immigration. Hence, an update of the regulatory framework is needed, specifically the ones related to the facilitation of passenger processing. There are various practices to increase airport capacity. such as placing off-airport check-in counters, including baggage and baggage scanning. Introducing technology and automation to expedite the passenger process (i.e. the E-gate immigration). which will increase the self-check-in counters and automated baggage drops. Adding more counters for security & inspection and immigration can also be considered.
Moreover, it is important to re-visit the slot allocation in order to spread the peak times in a way that airlines do not lose air connectivity and competitive advantage. This will optimize passenger movement and shorten their processing time to/from airport terminals. It is also wise to optimize the staff offices and commercial spaces, this may add more space for operational usage. One last possible approach is to restrict the entrance to the airport’s terminal to passengers only. The next article will be about the 2nd challenge facing ATM capacity.