Airport Show 2024 concludes with unparalleled success

Airport Show 2024 concludes with unparalleled success and signing of agreements and MoUs

  • Al Maktoum International Airport project receives attention from the international airport industry
  • dnata signs agreements worth $210 million to develop its services
  • General Mohammed Al Marri praises the response to special counter for children at Dubai International Airport
  • The Dubai Airline Operators Committee increases the number of its members to 52 carriers
  • Oman Airports increases the number of its airports to 10 within 5 years
  • More than 7,000 attendees, 150 exhibitors from 20 countries, 120-plus hosted buyers
  • Several agreements were signed by the participating companies on joint ventures, collaborations and service expansion.
  • Show success prompts organisers to announce next year’s exhibition on May 13-15, 2025

Airport Show 2024 concluded its activities the day before yesterday at the Dubai World Trade Centre, after three days of fruitful discussion sessions, displays of innovative technologies, agreements and memorandums of understanding that will contribute to shaping the future of the aviation industry.

The Show attracted more than 7,000 attendees, indicating overwhelming participation by all stakeholders in the industry in the wake of overall positive sentiment of growth in the aviation industry.

More than 150 exhibitors from over 20 countries participated in the exhibition which featured four country pavilions and over 120 buyers from more than 35 countries. The trade gathering hosted more than 3,500 meetings under its popular Business Connect Programme.

The leading annual exhibition dedicated to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region witnessed wide participation from industry leaders and international and regional experts, in conjunction with optimistic expectations for the growth of the global aviation industry, specifically the Middle East, as the industry is expected to achieve a new record in the number of passengers and airport expansions.

Several agreements were signed by the participating companies on joint ventures, collaborations and service expansion.

dnata, leader in aviation and travel services announced that it had signed several important contracts with a number of leading manufacturers during the Airport Show. It concluded framework contracts worth $210 million to purchase new ground support equipment.

Steve Allen, CEO of dnata Group, said: “We are committed to investing in best-in-class equipment and working with the largest partners to provide superior value and services to our customers. The contracts we announced today reflect our long-term strategy to continue enhancing our capabilities and adapting to the evolving needs of the industry.”

The success of the Airport Show was exemplified by the announcement by the Dubai Airline Operators Committee (AOC) that more airlines joined the association of airline companies operating schedule or seasonal services to, from, or via Dubai Airports (DXB/DWC).

“The Dubai Airline Operators Committee is delighted to announce the addition of seven new members to our existing group of 45 airlines. This expansion brings our total membership to 52. The new airlines joining us are Air Tanzania, Fly Beond, My Freighter DBA “Centrum Air”, United Airlines, Qatar Airways, US-Bangla Airlines, and Qeshm Air. We celebrated their integration into our community with a meet and greet ceremony at this year’s Dubai Airport Show, marking a milestone in our continued growth and collaboration within the aviation industry,” said Shabab Attarzadeh, Chairman, Dubai Airline Operators Committee

Airports Council International (ACI World) raised its expectations for the recovery of global passenger traffic to reach 9.4 billion passengers during 2024, exceeding the previous record of 9.2 billion passengers in 2019. Aircraft traffic will grow to 111.6 million by 2026. And international airports will witness 153.8 million aircraft movement by 2041.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, President of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, and patron of the exhibition, said during the opening of the exhibition that the airport exhibition has become a leading platform for business and a driving force to meet the needs of the airport industry and keep pace with the rapid, dynamic changes taking place in the industry, including emerging trends and revolutionary technologies, while major airports seek to achieve greater growth rates and attract investments and adopt innovations.

The overwhelming response prompted the organisers to announce next year’s Airport Show from May 13 to 15, 2025 with increased participation by all stakeholders from across the world.

May Ismail, Event Manager, Airport Show,  said that the great turnout and interest witnessed in the event is a reflection of the announcement of the new Al Maktoum International Airport project at a cost of AED128 billion, which will give a strong boost to the global aviation industry, in addition to the expected record growth in the volume of investment in modernisation and development, construction of new airports to meet the growth in global travel demand and competing with international airports to take their share of this growth.

May said: “The giant expansions and modernisations witnessed by airports in the region will make them a major player in the airport industry and passenger services around the world and this will offer opportunities for international companies specialized in airport equipment and technologies to contribute to this development process, which is considered the largest in the history of airports.”

May Ismail added: “I express my deep appreciation to all our strategic partners for the great success achieved by the exhibition in its current session, and we have begun preparing from now to make the next session an exceptional one in every sense.”

Sustainability and innovation

This year’s edition of the exhibition revolved around the theme “Sustainability and Innovation”, highlighting efforts to make the aviation industry more sustainable and efficient. The exhibition witnessed the presentation of a wide range of new technologies and solutions aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the aviation sector, improving the efficiency of airport operations, and enhancing the passenger experience.

The exhibition witnessed many discussion sessions and conferences that addressed a wide range of topics related to the aviation sector, including the future of airport security, sustainability in the aviation industry, technological developments in the field of aviation, and the challenges facing airports in the future.

One of the most prominent discussion sessions was “The Future of Airport Security: Embracing Innovation and Flexibility,” which brought together an elite group of aviation security leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to airport security in light of rapid technological developments and changing security threats. The session discussed the importance of adopting modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and biometrics to enhance airport security, facilitate travel procedures, and apply decentralized inspection techniques at departure gates or along airport corridors.

The exhibition also witnessed the holding of the eleventh session of the Global Airport Leaders’ Forum (GALF), in which participants discussed the new expansions at the region’s airports, especially Al Maktoum International Airport, and the importance of these expansions in enhancing Dubai’s position as a global aviation hub. The Forum also addressed other key topics such as passenger experience, digitalization, innovation, emerging technologies, workforce development, and air traffic management.

Dubai Civil Aviation Authority

The exhibition witnessed many important statements from government officials and aviation industry leaders. Mohammed Abdullah Lengawi, Director General of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, stressed the Authority’s commitment to developing and implementing a future and sustainable civil aviation policy and strategy, in a way that enhances Dubai’s position as a global center in this field.

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) highlighted the significant growth in commercial activities in the aviation sector during the first quarter of 2024.

The Authority revealed that approximately 11,990 services were issued during the first quarter of 2024, with a growth rate of 21% compared to the first quarter of 2023. The Authority also announced an increase in the number of requests for issuing commercial activity permits related to aviation activities in the Emirate of Dubai, in addition to free zones.

In his keynote speech, Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, stressed the importance of the Airport Show as a global platform for exchanging experiences and ideas and discussing the challenges facing the aviation industry. He pointed out that the expansion of Al Maktoum International Airport represents a huge leap in the aviation scene in Dubai, stressing Dubai’s commitment to providing travellers with world-class experiences and infrastructure.

“The government has committed to the future of aviation, and we know that we have been the world’s largest airport by international traffic for the past 10 years, and we expect to maintain and increase that lead over the next 100 years,” Griffiths said.

During its participation in the exhibition, the Dubai Police General Command reviewed a number of services specialized in security aspects and official security inspection procedures, including the Dubai Civil Aviation Security Center, the VIP Protection Department, the Explosives Security Department, the Security Inspection Department, the K9 Unit, the 901 Call Center, and the Tourism Police Department.

General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai

His Excellency Lieutenant General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, explained during his opening speech on the second day of the exhibition, that a special counter for children was created at Dubai International Airport after noticing their interest and approval of this experience, where he presented them with gifts such as notebooks and drawings. He recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the establishment of the children’s counter in the presence of their beloved personalities, Salem and Salama, and invited some entertainment figures. One year after launching the children’s counter, nearly one million children have used it. They spontaneously became attached to Dubai Airport, taking souvenir photos and videos while stamping their passports themselves, which strengthens the relationship between them and Dubai airports.

Al Marri pointed out that these developments fall within the vision of the UAE and Dubai to make happiness and positivity a way of life for citizens and residents, in accordance with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Al Marri said: “Ensuring that travelers’ data is correct before they arrive at Dubai airports allows us to complete 90% of their entry procedures into Dubai before their arrival. When they arrive at the passport office, verifying the person’s arrival is the only remaining procedure. In addition, there are counters dedicated to the smart gates we use today without the need to present a passport.”

Women in Aviation Conference

On the sidelines of the exhibition, the Women in Aviation Middle East Conference was held, which highlighted the importance of the role of women in the aviation sector, and discussed ways to increase women’s representation in leadership positions in this field. The conference witnessed the participation of prominent women leaders in the aviation industry, and representatives of international companies such as Boeing and Etihad Airways, who stressed the need to provide more opportunities for women and develop their leadership skills in this field.

IATA workshop on One ID

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) hosted a workshop entitled One ID that brought together key stakeholders from across the aviation industry to develop a vision of a seamless, contactless traveller journey through digital identity . The workshop highlighted the progress made in developing the One ID initiative, emphasizing its potential to revolutionize the passenger experience by simplifying processes and reducing friction points . Attendees engaged in fruitful discussions on the technical aspects of One ID, with a focus on digital identity solutions, privacy considerations, and setting industry-wide standards . Collaboration between airlines, airports, governments and technology providers has been identified as a critical element to achieving a truly interoperable One ID system.

Participating in the symposium were Kashif Khalid, Regional Director – Africa and Middle East Operations, Safety and Security at IATA, Mohammed Al-Mansour, Regional Director of Passenger Experience, AME-OSS – Amman Regional Office, IATA, and Yunkyung (Yoon) Kim, Director of Customer Experience, OSS, Infrastructure and Customer Experience, IATA , and Rami Al Samra, Vice President Business Support, Emirates Airlines.

Oman Airports

Sheikh Ayman bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Hosani, CEO of Oman Airports, said:

“The cooperation relations between the Sultanate of Oman and the UAE continue strongly, as a memorandum of understanding was signed during the exhibition with Emirates Airlines to market tourist destinations in the Sultanate, and memorandums of cooperation were also signed with Trans Handling and dnata, to enhance the exchange of experiences, training and operations.

“We have cooperation with Emirati companies in the fields of energy, maintenance, and others. We expect to pump large investments into our airport projects, which will create new job opportunities and contribute to the revitalization of other sectors such as tourism and services. We aim for the Sultanate of Oman to become a major regional aviation center within the next five years, and we seek to become a global company that manages 10 airports within For the next five years, we are working to improve the rankings of our airports in terms of providing service to passengers, and we aim for Muscat Airport to become among the top 10 airports in the world. We are also working to develop airport infrastructure, while the government plans to build new regional airports in Musandam and Khasab, in addition To expand Sohar Airport.

Al Hosani added: “The exhibition represents a very important opportunity, given the distinguished presence of technology experts from various parts of the world. Through our participation, we seek to communicate with these experts, learn about the latest developments in the field of aviation, and the possibility of opening new horizons for cooperation and investment.”

Ayman Abdulaziz Abu Abah, CEO of Riyadh Airports Company, noted that Saudi Arabia’s airports have exceeded pre-pandemic numbers, thanks to the ambitious 2030 Vision.

Kuljit Ghata-Aura, President of Boeing Middle East, Türkiye, Africa and Central Asia, said: “We’ve seen Boeing’s community outreach programs firsthand, cultivating entrepreneurial skills for women across our region. They drive women’s advancement into leadership and nurture future female professionals. These efforts, emphasizing crucial entrepreneurial skills like communication, negotiation, and strategic acumen, empower women and promote diversity, innovation, and sustainable progress.”

The annual airport exhibition was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, and with the support of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Airports, and Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, Emirates Airlines and Group, Dubai Air Navigation Services, and dnata, one of the world’s largest aviation services providers spanning five continents.

SITTI/ENAV introduced the co-branded Tower Integrated Information System (TIIS), an innovative platform designed to streamline operations within airport control towers. The system integrates diverse data sources and enhances situational awareness for operators.

Italian Pavilion

The Italian Pavilion, hosted by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), featured the latest ‘Made in Italy’ designs and innovations for airport infrastructure. Italian manufacturers, represented by Air Tech Italy (ATI), a leading trade association specializing in airport products, technologies and services, presented their latest offerings, including air traffic management systems, construction, engineering and consulting services.

Italy has voluntarily adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Program for International Aviation (CORSIA), which encourages the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the exploration of alternative sustainable energy sources.

Valerio Soldani, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE and Director of the Italian Trade Agency UAE Office, highlighted the importance of sustainability: “28 Italian companies participated this year and focused on sustainability which is driving the air logistics industry worldwide. Our team works closely with “The companies and AirTechItaly will continue to grow bilateral business relations with the UAE in this key sector as well, further strengthening Italy’s presence in the GCC market, and offering cutting-edge solutions and products to a fast-paced market, which requires reliable, flexible, sustainable and innovative business partners.”

Design experts

DAR, a leading airport design consultancy, showcased its expertise in airport planning and design and advanced aviation technologies. It also highlighted its global network, Sidara, and its portfolio of ambitious airport projects that bring world-class, industry-leading capabilities in aviation planning and design, extensive expertise in the latest aviation technologies, and the comprehensive multi-disciplinary services required to design and deliver airports and airfield infrastructure with over 300 projects. Airport is implemented all over the world.