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Issue 2, 2021

Focus on: Route development Special report: Travel bubbles & health passports Plus: Sustainability, e-commerce & WBP news www.aci-asiapac.aero



Director general, Stefano Baronci, reflects on the continued challenges of COVID-19 and ACI AsiaPacific’s efforts to hasten the industry’s recovery and ensure its future sustainability.


A snapshot of the biggest news stories from across the region.


Communications manager, Samantha Solomon, rounds-up the latest news and developments from ACI Asia-Pacific.



With new owners and a capacity doubling new terminal on the way, the future looks bright for Kazakhstan’s Almaty Airport, writes Joe Bates.


Travel bubbles, health passports and new touchless technology are all set to play a role in facilitating aviation’s recovery from COVID-19, writes Joe Bates.


With international travel still very much on hold because of COVID-19, it is going to take the effort of all industry stakeholders to restore global connectivity, writes James Brass from aviation consultancy, York Aviation.


Asia-Pacific Airports www.aci-apa.com Editor Joe Bates joe@aci-apa.com +44 (0)1276 476582 Design, Layout & Production Michael Sturman michael@aci-apa.com

ACI Asia-Pacific Jeannie Wong Head of Communications and Events jeannie@aci-asiapac.aero +852 2989 8003 Published by Aviation Media Ltd PO BOX 448, Feltham, TW13 9EA, UK

Managing Director Jonathan Lee jonathan@aci-apa.com +44 (0)208 707 2743 Advertising Manager Jonathan Lee jonathan@aci-apa.com +44 (0)208 707 2743 Subscriptions subscriptions@aci-apa.com

Asia-Pacific Airports is published four times a year for the members of ACI Asia-Pacific. The opinions and views expressed in the magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect an ACI policy or position. This publication is copyright of Aviation Media Ltd and should not be copied or stored without the express permission of the publisher.



A new A$10 billion rail link looks set to make travelling to Melbourne Airport quicker, easier and more environmentally friendly, writes Joe Bates.


Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) director general, Subhas Menon, praises the resiliency of the region’s airlines as the aviation industry awaits the smart, sustainable and safe restart of international travel.


A pioneering new e-commerce initiative aims to make airport shopping in Malaysia and at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport in Turkey easier and more convenient than ever before.

APA Issue 2, 2021


We turn the spotlight on Hamad International Airport’s efforts to enhance its waste management, green operations at Phnom Penh International Airport and carbon accreditation for Hawke’s Bay Airport.


The latest news from ACI’s Asia-Pacific and global World Business Partners.

Asia-Pacific is proud to be the voice of airport operators in the fastest-growing regions of the world, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

ACI Asia-Pacific key facts:

Our team of professionals works tirelessly to serve and lead airports in the region with the vision to shape the future of the aviation industry globally.











Based in Hong Kong SAR, ACI Asia-Pacific is one of five regions of the only global airport trade organization, Airports Council International (ACI) World. In 2019, ACI Asia-Pacific airports handled 3.8 billion passengers and 5.8 billion tonnes of cargo.








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APA Issue 2, 2021

VIEW FROM THE TOP Director general, Stefano Baronci, reflects on the continued challenges of COVID-19 and ACI Asia-Pacific’s efforts to hasten the industry’s recovery and ensure its future sustainability.


he road to travel recovery is proving to be bumpy and winding in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, with uncertainties playing out on many levels and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in many parts of Asia. Asian countries are hesitant to relax travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers, not least because the vaccine roll-out in the large majority of the countries is proceeding at a slower pace than in other parts of the world. The scenario in the Middle East is more positive with a higher vaccine uptake, especially in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Bahrain. As we head towards the middle of the year, the majority of states, with some exceptions, are sticking to the status quo of travel restrictions and quarantine. TRAVEL BUBBLES AND TRAFFIC Travel bubbles potentially provide one solution to end today’s international travel restrictions, although as we have seen in recent months, making them happen and last the test of time is proving difficult due to the continued emergence of new COVID-19 variants.


Indeed, examples of the volatile nature of the pandemic have led to the temporary suspension of flights between Chinese Taipei and Palau and the ill-fated travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore. On the plus side, the Trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New-Zealand produced a very positive economic and social effect, and continuing the momentum, New Zealand established a corridor with the Cook Islands. However, the two state partners are already experiencing disruptions. Travel corridors are also being established with other regions of the world. The United Arab Emirates in particular has made a series of bilateral travel corridor agreements with Bahrain, Italy, Greece, Serbia and the Seychelles. These agreements waive the quarantine requirement in favour of testing, as advocated by ACI Asia-Pacific. While quarantine-free travel bubbles provide an opportunity to re-open borders in a measured way, it is not enough to recover lost traffic. Weekly trending of passenger volumes for both Asia-Pacific and the Middle East indicate that the overall recovery continues to be

slow and sensitive to resurgence of COVID-19 cases. On aggregate, the year-on-year change in passenger volumes in May 2021 still stands at -76% compared to 2019 levels. ASEAN AND G7 ADVOCACY To deepen our engagement with states in the region, we approached the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, better known as ASEAN. The ten member states are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. They gladly welcomed ACI Asia-Pacific into their Air Transport Working Group. This will allow us to consistently and strategically share our position with national air transport experts. In advance of the G7 Summit in June, we partnered with ACI World to address a message to the G7 member state Japan and invited leaders of the G7, Australia, India and the Republic of South Korea. The message focused on the need for a global approach in relation to digital health passports to avoid undesirable queues and crowds at the airport.

LONG-TERM CARBON GOAL In exciting news for our sector, ACI World has announced a major commitment towards combatting climate change. A comprehensive ACI World study, conducted by World Business Partners, Airbiz and ICF, concluded that it is feasible for the world’s airports to decarbonise and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As a result, it has been announced that ACI member airports globally are committing to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is a major step on the part of airports who will have to partner with governments to provide the necessary support in this endeavour. I am delighted to share that the entire ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Board is fully supportive of this goal. This support is a reflection of the great advances that have already been made in our region. Close to 60 airports are participating in the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, for example, several of which have already reached carbon neutrality. Recently, our member airports Hawke’s Bay, Kansai Airports, Narita Airport and Sydney Airport made similar announcements, with some even committing to net zero emissions by 2030. New technologies – such as solar energy – are readily being explored and implemented in our solar-rich region. It’s important to realise that there will be challenges in achieving this ambitious goal and we have a long road ahead of us. For more information on the study or the goal, please do contact us.

AWARDS AND ANNIVERSARIES At ACI Asia-Pacific we always look forward to the second quarter of the year as it is the time we announce the winners of two award programmes. Through our signature HR programme, the Young Executive Award, our association contributes to the continuous development of the people who will run the airports of the future. This year, the research competition addressed the ‘topic du jour’ of ‘Passenger Facilitation under Pandemic’. You can read more about the winner and Honourable Mentions in our ACI Asia-Pacific regional update on page 13. Our environmental flagship programme, the Green Airports Recognition, invited airports to submit their projects on improving local air quality. Interestingly, the variety of projects submitted showed the innovation and creativity of our members in addressing this important local environmental issue.


It proposes that the G7 Summit explicitly recognises these concerns in its communique. In the same letter, we urged states to ensure that there is equity of access and treatment for those who do not hold a digital certificate.

The timing of the announcement is especially significant as the public’s confidence in air travel, and the willingness to fly again post-pandemic, will be heavily influenced by the sector’s willingness and actions to tackle climate change and transition to sustainable business models.

A full breakdown of the recognised airports is detailed in our round up of the latest news from across the ACI Asia-Pacific region on page 12 of this issue. On the topic of anniversaries, I would like to offer my congratulations to Shanghai Airports, which celebrates its 100th birthday in June, thereby joining an elite club of airport centenarians! We wish them a prosperous and glorious future. @ACIAPAC ONLINE I hope that by now you’ve had a chance to view our webinar series @ACIAPAC Online. In the continuing absence of in-person events, this series was created to virtually bring our community together. The series continues through to June 22. If you’re unable to log in live or missed any of our previous webinars, I am happy to say that all are now on our newly-launched YouTube channel and website. We appreciate and greatly value the support and sponsorship of our World Business Partners and the participation of airport members and industry colleagues for making these events possible. As we patiently wait for vaccination drives to ramp up, we wish you a good summer.




APA Issue 2, 2021


GUANGZHOU BAIYUN WAS THE WORLD’S BUSIEST AIRPORT IN 2020 The global impact of COVID-19 meant that 2020’s world traffic rankings had a very different look to normal, with Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN) in China replacing HartsfieldJackson Atlanta (ATL) as the busiest gateway on the planet. Guangzhou Baiyun took top spot by handling 43.7 million passengers in 2020, just under 850,000 more than ATL. Six other Chinese airports also appear in the Top 10, many for the first time. They include Chengdu Shuangliu, Shenzhen Bao’an, Chongqing Jiangbei, Kunming Changshui and Shanghai Hongqiao. ACI World’s preliminary world airport traffic rankings show that global passenger traffic at the world’s top 10 busiest airports decreased by -45.7% in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by -64.6%, clearly demonstrating the negative impact of the pandemic, and the early stages of recovery in air travel has not been uniform around the world. In most cases for the world’s Top 10 busiest airports in 2020, domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international air travel remains depressed because of on-going travel restrictions. For example, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in China has moved from 46th position in 2019 to the 9th in


2020, illustrating the uneven nature of the impact of, and recovery from, the pandemic across the world. “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global passenger traffic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face an existential threat,” noted ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira. “The data reveals the challenge airports continue to face, and it remains absolutely imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery. “The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery. “With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realised with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and co-ordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.”

MULTIPLEX TO BUILD NEW TERMINAL AT WESTERN SYDNEY AIRPORT Multiplex Constructions has won the contract to design and build the passenger terminal at Australia’s planned new Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport.

Airbiz is the designated specialist airport planner on the project, led by Multiplex and supported by Woods Bagot and Arup. Australia’s Minister for Communications, Urban infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, believes that the contract award is an important step in the development of Sydney’s new airport. “The unveiling of the final designs of the new Western Sydney Airport is a major milestone towards the delivery of

“After several years of preparing the airport site, including moving 18 million cubic metres of earth to date, construction is on track to commence on the integrated passenger terminal at the end of the year. “This project is a unique opportunity to build an airport from the ground up – allowing us to deploy the latest technology to ensure the passenger experience is smoother and easier than today’s airports, and the security systems more effective but less intrusive.


The A$5.3 billion airport is slated to open in late 2026 and will initially be equipped to handle around 10 million passengers per annum.

one of the most significant infrastructure projects in Australia,” said Fletcher.

“The new terminal will not only be a state-of-the art piece of infrastructure but a driver of jobs and economic growth for the region, and form an integral element of the surrounding aerotropolis and the broader Western Parkland city.”

INCHEON TO BECOME HOME TO FREIGHTER CONVERSION BASE Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Aviation Group and Sharp Technics K to establish a passenger to freighter (P2F) conversion site in South Korea. The facility at Incheon International Airport will specialise in converting Boeing 777-ERSF (Big Twin) from passenger to freighter aircraft from 2024. Within the framework of the agreement, IAI will initially convert six B777-300ER, and a B777-200LR per year, with the deal providing scope for the agreement to be expanded to twin-aisle freighter heavy maintenance additionally. According to the South Korean gateway, establishing more P2F aircraft conversion facilities around the world

is necessary in order to meet the expected rise in demand for wide-body freighter aircraft with capacity for long-haul flights. All converted freighters at the IIAC site will be exported to express shipping service providers. It is anticipated that the aggregated export value from the first conversion release in 2024 to 2040 will be close to $1 billion and that the new venture will create around new 2,100 jobs. Kyung-wook Kim, president and CEO of Incheon International Airport Corporation, said: “By attracting the first overseas production base of IAI’s large-sized cargo aircraft to the Incheon Airport MRO cluster, which exclusively possesses the technology for retrofitting Boeing’s large passenger aircraft, we will grow together and contribute greatly to the development of the national and regional economy.”



APA Issue 2, 2021

HOME BREW GIANT TO OPEN FACILITY AT BRISBANE AIRPORT Home brewing giant, Bevie, will soon be joining the growing list of tenants at Brisbane Airport (BNE) following the sod-turning ceremony for its new 2,600sqm facility in a warehousing industrial duplex facility on Grevillea Place in Export Park.

“We have a number of exciting projects underway and a property assets portfolio exceeding A$1.7 billion. Bevie is a part of BNE’s exciting future, which includes the opening of the BNE Auto Mall in 2024.”

Martin Ryan, Brisbane Airport Corporation’s executive general manager for commercial, said: “Bevie’s arrival is very exciting for all of us at Brisbane Airport as it diversifies the mix of industries we have here on site.

In late May 2021, BNE announced that freight forwarder, Stockwell International, had become its newest tenant by opening a 1,500sqm warehouse at the gateway.



Dubai International Airport (DXB) has gained Airport Health Accreditation from ACI, the certification officially endorsing its efforts to ensure the health and safety of passengers and airport workers.

“The crucial first step towards achieving those objectives was the implementation of comprehensive measures that demonstrated to our customers that their health and safety are a top priority for Dubai Airports.”

Dubai Airports CEO, Paul Griffiths, says. “As one of the world’s leading hubs, DXB had a critical role to play in restoring passenger confidence to enable the resumption of international air travel last year and help kick start the much needed global economic and social recovery.

These comprehensive measures have included fumigation as well as periodic deep cleaning of airport facilities, facilitating the testing of inbound passengers, the vaccination of airport staff, and the use of protective plexiglass at check-in and immigration counters.


in US$



$180.9 billion

GLOBAL RETURN on invested capital


54.0% Aeronautical



Non-aeronautical Non-operating


$9.99 $7.44


TOTAL COST per passenger




Retail concessions


Car parking



Property and real estate





Others include car rentals, food and beverage, advertising and more.

REGIONAL UPDATE Communications manager, Samantha Solomon, rounds-up the latest news and developments from ACI Asia-Pacific.


APA Issue 2, 2021

Six airport members from Australia, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR and India received top honours in this year’s Green Airports Recognition programme for outstanding achievements in improving local air quality. The submissions showcased innovative practices ranging from equipment power replacement, green plantation and the prevention of open fires to vehicle power replacement. In a virtual ceremony, the fifth edition of the association’s annual recognition programme celebrated the following airports: Over 25 million passengers per annum: • Platinum – Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, India • Gold – Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong SAR • Silver – Taoyuan International Airport, Taoyuan City, Chinese Taipei


In the continued absence of in-person events, ACI Asia-Pacific launched an online webinar series in April to discuss the pressing issues facing the industry and to provide an opportunity for airports and World Business Partners to connect. The eight-week webinar series – which concludes on June 22 – has to date covered topics ranging from biometrics, non-aeronautical revenues and travel confidence to sustainability, with Regional Board members, airport CEOs, technical experts and industry stakeholders from across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East coming together to offer advice during frank and informative conversations. Don’t worry if you’ve missed them as all are available on our newly-launched YouTube channel.


Less than 25 million passengers per annum: • Platinum – Brisbane Airport, Brisbane, Australia • Gold – Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad, India • Silver – Kaohsiung International Airport, Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei “I applaud the recognised airports for their outstanding work towards improving air quality at and around their airports, playing their part in creating cleaner skies,” enthuses ACI Asia-Pacific’s director general, Stefano Baronci. “As a positive side effect, many of these efforts also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation.” Head to the ACI Asia-Pacific online Library where all the submissions are documented in the Green Airports Recognition 2021 publication.


(Changi Airport Group Pte Ltd, Singapore)


(Cambodia Airports, Cambodia)


WE SALUTE OUR YOUNG EXECUTIVE AWARD WINNER We are pleased to announce that David Oatley, an airport planning manager from Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC), has won our Young Executive Award for 2021. On being told of his success in the association’s signature Human Resources programme, Oatley modestly noted that the award should be shared across BAC.

Oatley will receive a US$1,000 cash prize and a scholarship to the ACI World Global Training Airport Operations Diploma Programme. Brisbane Airport will receive an additional scholarship to any ACI Global Training Leadership and Management Professional Certificate course. Now in its twelfth year, ACI Asia-Pacific received papers from across the region addressing the timely topic of ‘Passenger Facilitation under Pandemic’. The panel of judges awarded two Honourable Mentions to Sagarika Madasu, manager, strategic planning group, GMR Hyderabad International Airport, India; and Daecheol Kim, manager, smart airport group, Incheon International Airport Corporation, Korea. His Excellency, Ali Salim Al Midfa, chairman of Sharjah Airport Authority and second vice president of the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Board said: “We applaud this year’s winner and Honourable Mentions who showed great judgement and a keen understanding of challenging circumstances and presented considered solutions.” The papers of the winner and Honourable Mentions are posted on the ACI Asia-Pacific website to encourage the promulgation of innovative ideas and best practices among the Asia-Pacific and Middle East airport community.

(GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited, India)

SECRETARY-TREASURER Sheikh Aimen bin Ahmed Al Hosni*

IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid**

(Oman Airports Management Company, Oman)

(GMR Airports Limited, India)

REGIONAL BOARD DIRECTORS Mohamed Yousif Al-Binfalah*

Jean-Michel Ratron

Nicolas Claude

Nitinai Sirismatthakarn*

(Bahrain Airport Company SPC, Bahrain)

(Airport International Group, Jordan)

Geoff Culbert*

(Tahiti Airport, French Polynesia)

(Airports of Thailand, Thailand)

Chang Wan Son

(Sydney Airport, Australia)

(Korea Airports Corporation, Republic of Korea)

Jerry Dann

Akihiko Tamura*

(Taoyuan International Airport Corporation Ltd, Chinese Taipei)

Gert-Jan de Graaff

(Brisbane Airport Corporation PTY Limited, Australia)

(Narita International Airport Corporation, Japan)

Yoshiyuki Yamaya

(Kansai Airports, Japan)

Kejian Zhang

Videh Kumar Jaipuriar

(Guangdong Airport Authority, China)

Fred Lam*


(Delhi International Airport Ltd, India)

(Airport Authority Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR)

Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh

(Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, Malaysia)

Quoc Phuong Nguyen (Airports Corporation of Vietnam, Vietnam)

Yun Qin


“It is a huge honour to be recognised by ACI Asia-Pacific, although I must admit I don’t think it is so personal. It is actually a reflection on Brisbane Airport Corporation in its entirety,” he commented.

(Sharjah Airport Authority, UAE)

(Airbiz Aviation Strategies Pty Ltd, Australia)


(General Authority of Civil Aviation, Saudi Arabia)

Xue Song Liu*

(Beijing Capital International Airport Co Ltd, China)

(Shanghai Airport Authority, China) * WGB member **Regional Advisor on WGB



APA Issue 2, 2021

Industry suppliers ICF, Marsh, NAFFCO and Transoft Solutions have joined ACI Asia-Pacific’s World Business Partner (WBP) programme.

The WBP programme is a platform that provides opportunities for companies to connect and engage with ACI’s airport members as a means to meet business objectives and operational needs. WBP membership is open to companies doing business with, for and at airports, or in an airport-related industry. Joining as an affiliate WBP, ICF leverages proven methodologies, best practice processes, and proprietary tools to advise airport management, terminal design firms and engineers, governments, regulators, civil aviation authorities and aviation trade bodies throughout the world. Their team includes experts in regulation, aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues, operating expenditure, master planning and capital expenditure and financial modelling. With offices located throughout Asia, Pacific and the Middle East, professional services firm Marsh has dedicated teams of aviation and aerospace specialists and extensive industry experience to navigate the unique risk-related challenges that airports face.

Clients choose Marsh to gain access to industry-leading intelligence, analytics, risk placement, claims to handle and risk consulting capabilities and have experienced Marsh’s depth of expertise in negotiating competitive pricing and cover for a company’s risk and insurance requirements. New member NAFFCO provides cutting edge fire protection and hazard management tools for airports and the aviation industry. Founded in Dubai, UAE, and now present in over 100 countries, NAFFCO’s aviation products and services range from runway, fire and safety and airport passenger solutions. Transoft Solutions is well known for its software solutions tailored for airport planners, engineers, architects and operators. Whether a project involves optimising aircraft parking at a gate, improving check-in procedures, designing a new ground marking, preparing an obstacle limitation report or assessing facility capacity or widening a taxiway fillet, Transoft Solutions has a solution to help complete the task confidently and accurately in a timeefficient manner.

ICAO ECO-TOOLKIT FEATURES MEMBER WATER MANAGEMENT PROJECTS As part of its Eco-Airport Toolkit e-collection, ICAO recently released the Water Management at Airports publication. The publication provides states with practical information for decision makers engaged in green airport planning and design. The Water Management at Airports publication includes examples of action taken from the eligible submissions of ACI Asia-Pacific’s 2020 Green Airports Recognition programme:

• • • • •

Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong SAR Kaohsiung International Airport, Chinese Taipei Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, India Taoyuan International Airport, Chinese Taipei

The publication notes that “water resources are under increasing pressure due to growing demand, urbanisation and climate change. Some regions of the world are facing water scarcity and these situations are likely to multiply in the future.” APA


343 accredited airports 50

in North America


in Europe


in Asia-Pacific


in Latin America & Caribbean


4.2 billion passengers per year*


ADVERT in Africa

in 75 countries across the world

or 46% of global air passenger traffic*

Visit our interactive results website www.airportCO2.org @AirportCO2 * Passenger traffic data refers to 2019

APA Issue 2, 2021

EXPANSION ON THE HORIZON With new owners and a capacity doubling new terminal on the way, the future looks bright for Kazakhstan’s Almaty Airport, writes Joe Bates.


lmaty Airport is under new ownership after a consortium led by global airport operator, TAV Airports, acquired the Kazakhstan gateway earlier this year.

The deal is expected to take Kazakhstan’s gateway to the world to the next level in terms of its facilities, growth potential and ambition to become the undisputed leading hub for Central Asia.

Air Astana’s president and CEO, Peter Foster, certainly believes that TAV’s ownership of Almaty Airport and promise of future investment in new facilities can only be a good thing for the gateway, his airline and Kazakhstan.

A record 6.4 million passengers (+13%) passed through Almaty in 2019 to cement its status as Kazakhstan’s busiest airport, the upward trajectory being helped in no small way by the growth of homebased flag carrier, Air Astana.

“Air Astana welcomes the entry of TAV with whom we work with at several airports around our network, and we look forward to building a solid business relationship with them,” enthuses Foster.

Indeed, Air Astana’s expanding route network and the addition of new international routes have made Almaty Airport (ALA) one of the region’s fastest growing gateways for the last decade. The global pandemic has, of course, had an impact on traffic at Almaty Airport, which saw its passenger numbers drop to 3.6 million in 2020 due to a significant reduction in flights and travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19. However, with traffic levels beginning to rise again, the need for new infrastructure to ensure that the airport


is capable of meeting anticipated future demand remains very much front and central for ALA’s new owners, who have pledged to invest around $200 million on a new terminal.

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY IN ALMATY A member of Groupe ADP, TAV now owns 85% of Almaty Airport and its associated fuel and catering businesses with the Kazakhstan Infrastructure Fund – managed by VPE Capital and backed by Kazyna Capital Management – holding the remaining 15% stake. Almaty is the first airport in TAV’s portfolio where the company actually owns the airport instead of holding a time limited concession. So why has it decided to do things differently in Kazakhstan and break from the concession model that has proved hugely successful for it across the globe over the last 20 years?

Depending on the recovery of the traffic to pre-pandemic levels, the consortium will pay the additional $50 million in the coming years.

“Traditionally, airports are strategic and long-term investments developed and managed by the public sector. In the last 30 years, the concession or public-privatepartnership (PPP) model has proved to be an effective solution when the states wanted to direct resources elsewhere. Simultaneously, with the advent of globalisation, airport businesses evolved to provide a unique and complete experience.

As part of the deal, Turkey-headquartered TAV will invest around $200 million on building a new international terminal which will double the airport’s capacity to more than 14 million passengers annually. The investment is planned to be completed in less than three years.

“TAV was among the first around the world to undertake concessions, and with great success, creating value for the public, shareholders, lenders and other stakeholders. Yet, we have the capabilities to execute other investment models. The only condition is that it must be the right project for our financial and operational capabilities, and Almaty fulfilled these criteria. We are very much used to crisis, and never stop looking for new opportunities. “So, Almaty has become the first fully-owned airport in our network. It enlarges our footprint to Central Asia, where we want to continue to grow. Our airport portfolio will allow us to develop Almaty’s route network, adding new destinations and bringing in new airlines to Almaty.”

TAV’s deal for ALA was supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which financed 50% the acquisition and have agreed to fund 100% of the new terminal investment with a loan. The financing is expected to be closed in the third quarter of 2021.


TAV Airports president and CEO Sani Şener, says: “Our strategy is to invest in projects that are in line with our financial capabilities and operational abilities.

THE APPEAL OF ALMATY AND KAZAKHSTAN Located in the south-east of the country, in addition to its importance to the Silk Road, Almaty is a strategic point along China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ project, connecting Central China to West Asia, Europe and Africa. TAV notes that Kazakhstan leads Central Asia in economic growth and generates roughly 60% of the region’s GDP.

The main gateway to Kazakhstan is an important junction in the modern ‘Silk Road’ and becomes the 15th airport in TAV’s global network.

Almaty itself and the surrounding region is home to 3.5 million inhabitants – 20% of the country population. And Almaty city’s GDP per capita is the second highest among Kazakhstan’s regions, with only the resource rich Atyrau region achieving higher levels.

ECONOMICS & FINANCE TAV Airports notes that the previously agreed purchase price of $415 million was reduced to $365 million taking into account the traffic decrease of the last year due to the pandemic.

Şener enthuses: “Our strategy is focused on emerging markets, because this is where growth happens. Central Asia has great geostrategic importance in today’s global trade and Kazakhstan leads the region in economic growth and Foreign Direct Investment.


APA Issue 2, 2021

“Almaty is the financial and cultural capital of the country and therefore we believe there’s significant growth potential for the airport, and drawing upon our extensive know-how, we’ll work towards realising this potential to the fullest. “As part of the largest airport management group globally, we’ll be promoting Almaty and Kazakhstan as the business capital of the region, as a country with a rich cultural heritage and diverse tourism opportunities. “Our expertise in route development will help to increase the connectivity of Almaty to the world. As an example, in Georgia we doubled the number of destinations and increased passenger traffic seven-fold in a decade.” He notes that TAV’s aim is to contribute to the economic and social development of Almaty region, creating employment and facilitating a global reach for local businesses. “I would like to underline the supporting approach towards foreign investors in Kazakhstan and thank government officials, our partner, our lenders and employees who made this process as smooth as possible,” adds Şener. EXISTING FACILITIES AND TIMEFRAME FOR DEVELOPMENT ALA, which arguably counts Manas International Airport in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as its biggest rival, currently boasts a single terminal and two runways that are capable of handling around seven million passengers per annum. Although the terminal is fairly modern having only opened in 2004, its location, layout and design doesn’t allow


much scope for any capacity enhancing development, so plans for a potential second terminal have been on the table for years. In this regards, ALA has looked on enviously at Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport (formerly Astana International Airport) in capital city, Nur-Sultan, which opened a new $200 million terminal in 2017 that has allowed it to operate with separate international and domestic terminals. It is a model that is likely to be repeated in Almaty in the next few years. TAV Airports’ Şener promises that the planned new terminal will not only double ALA’s capacity to 14mppa but bring enhancements such as the latest, touchless selfservice technology, new retail/F&B concepts and even an airport hotel. Will TAV be looking to upgrade in the airport’s IT systems in the future, particularly in light of COVID-19 and the new appeal of touchless self-service technology? “The pandemic has increased the pace of digitalisation at airports and I believe that this trend will continue. The aim is to provide a seamless, safe and comfortable travel experience to our passengers,” Şener replies. “Our subsidiary, TAV Technologies, is already providing IT solutions in all areas of airport operations. Through the use of biometrics, AI and others, TAV Tech developed self-service, queue management and touchless applications. We’ll be employing this know-how in Almaty in due course.”


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APA Issue 2, 2021

AIRLINES AND ROUTE NETWORK Kazakhstani national flag carrier, Air Astana, is the dominant airline in Almaty, accounting for around 55% of all passengers handled at the airport. In 2019, the airline and low-cost carrier (LCC) subsidiary, FlyArystan, handled more than five million passengers across a route network that covered more than 60 domestic and international routes, including Bangkok, Beijing, Frankfurt, Moscow, Paris, St Petersburg and Seoul. Air Astana is widely recognised for having one of the youngest fleets in the world, which as of May 2021, comprised 34 Airbus, Boeing and Embraer aircraft, the bulk of which are less than four years old. Foster notes that Air Astana took the strategically significant step of launching FlyArystan as Central Asia’s first LCC in May 2019 and it has rapidly developed an extensive network of domestic services, together with international services to Georgia and Turkey. Indeed, FlyArystan has carried three million passengers over the past two years and recorded average load factors of more than 87%, and an average on-time performance of 89%, despite the pandemic. Talking about the impact of COVID on his airlines, Foster admits that’s Air Astana’s “spirit of innovation” has been tested during the health pandemic, with a significant number of long-established international services either suspended or heavily curtailed in terms of frequency.


“We have also pivoted from our traditional international model to one serving domestic leisure market demand,” reveals Foster. “This move has been successful and will be extended and supported by the launch of regular flights to Podgorica in Montenegro in June.” In addition to Air Astana, Bek Air, Qazak Air and SCAT Airlines also use Almaty as their base, enjoying a market share of 6%, 3% and 14% respectively. The other big players are Aeroflot (4%) and Turkish Airlines (3%) – the former being the biggest beneficiary of Transaero’s demise as it is now the second biggest international airline serving Kazakhstan due to its expansion on Russia-Kazakhstan routes in collaboration with low-cost subsidiary Pobeda Airlines.

Pre-pandemic, Almaty was a major regional transportation hub for 26 passenger and 12 cargo airlines. They included China Southern Airlines, flydubai, Hainan Airlines, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Wizz Air.


However, he is quick to note that Air Astana was “managing the crisis” and is in “good shape” today due to making some important strategic decisions. These, he says, included identifying new opportunities in different market segments, with the opening of new leisure services to destinations including Egypt and the Maldives, as well as new flights to Batumi and Kutaisi in Georgia.

The market leading cargo airlines in Almaty are Air Astana (22%), Turkish Airlines (17%), Hong Kong Air (14%), Silk Way (10%), Cargolux (8%) and Lufthansa (8%) In 2019, international passengers accounted for around 47% of traffic mix in Almaty, and this is something Şener would like to see increase in the future. He says: “In 2019, the traffic mix was balanced, with around 53% domestic and 47% international. Our aim is to simultaneously increase the number of domestic and international passengers, but mainly the latter. “Almaty has a rich cultural history and a number of scarcely known natural beauties. Besides its place as the financial and business hub of the region, we’ll work to promote Almaty as a leisure destination and attract international travellers from around the world.”



APA Issue 2, 2021

RECONNECTING THE WORLD Travel bubbles, health passports and new touchless technology are all set to play a role in facilitating aviation’s recovery from COVID-19, writes Joe Bates.


ith traffic numbers still significantly down on pre-pandemic levels and airlines understandably reluctant to launch new routes in such a tough operating climate, the aviation industry remains very much in survival mode, although initiatives such as travel bubbles and digital health passports offer hope for better times ahead. Both options, of course, offer passengers the chance to once again enjoy what most of us have taken for granted all our lives – the opportunity to safely travel between two different countries without having to undergo a period of quarantine or self-isolation at one or both ends of the journey. The recently opened Trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand (more of this below) has shown what can be done to allow the safe resumption of quarantine-free flights between two different countries. If all goes to plan, it will be followed by a travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong in the not too distant future, although proposals to introduce it in late May were unfortunately put on hold due to rising COVID-19 numbers in Singapore. Compared to the Australia-New Zealand version, the plans for the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble are somewhat modest with initially only around 200 seats a day expected to be offered in each direction, but it will be a major step


forward for both near neighbours and their respective hubs – Singapore Changi (SIN) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). Meanwhile, the clamour for digital health passports that show that passengers are fit to travel appears to be growing, with a number of different players driving the development of health apps. Initiatives such as these – supported, and in many cases made possible by the raft of new health measures and touchless self-service technology introduced by airports since the outbreak of the global pandemic – ensure that the light at the end of tunnel is beginning to get a bit brighter for the beleaguered aviation industry. TRANS-TASMAN TRAVEL BUBBLE In April, airports in Australia and New Zealand celebrated the re-opening of quarantine-free Trans-Tasman travel for Australian and New Zealand nationals for the first time in 12 months. And such has been the success of the move to date that at the time of going to press, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was set to meet Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to discuss the possibility of allowing vaccinated international travellers from around the world to board these flights.

The launch of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble on April 19 was pretty much met with widespread delight in Australia and New Zealand.

The airport reported that all eight arrivals and eight departures operated at around 80% capacity with more than 1,600 seats being sold. Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO, Gert-Jan de Graaff, called the travel bubble between the two countries “vitally important for the thousands of businesses in Brisbane, the regions, and across Queensland who rely on tourism”. In 2019, around 1.5 million passengers flew between BNE and New Zealand, with more than 100 flights each week and five airlines operating services to five New Zealand cities (Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin, and Queenstown). Elsewhere in Australia on April 19, Perth Airport handled its first flight from Auckland under the new safe travel arrangements, and passengers who made the journey were welcomed by a traditional Aboriginal Welcome to Country and many excited meeters and greeters ready to be united with loved ones after over a year apart. Kevin Brown, CEO of Perth Airport, called the milestone “a big step for Western Australia’s COVID-19 recovery”, noting that one new international route can add at least A$70 million into the local economy. Pre-Covid, tourism was a key economic driver in Western Australia, generating more than 100,000 jobs and injecting A$12 billion into the Western Australian economy.

This includes the separation of ‘Red Zone’ and ‘Green Zone’ Border Control queuing areas/Smart Gate and Baggage Reclaim belts. Red Zone flights (flights arriving from all other international destinations) would only be able to arrive once a Green Zone flight has completed the arrivals process.


Brisbane Airport (BNE) opened 16 ‘Green Lane’ services to accommodate Air New Zealand and Qantas flights between Brisbane and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The airport has established a ‘Green Zone’ to facilitate passengers from ports deemed safe by the Australian Government (currently only to passengers from New Zealand) through the inbound journey to the public Arrivals hall.

Meanwhile in New Zealand on April 19, passengers arriving in Queenstown from Sydney enjoyed a warm welcome that included live music, prizes from more than 95 Queenstown and Wanaka businesses, and entertainment in the airport forecourt. Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) chair, Adrienne Young-Cooper said: “It was an emotional moment watching the Qantas flight make its approach to the airport this afternoon. The region has been hit hard by COVID-19 and Aussie visitors are really important to us. We welcome them back with open arms.” While QAC chief executive, Colin Keel, enthused: “We were thrilled to mark the re-opening of the Trans-Tasman border and the first quarantine-free flight from Australia. It goes without saying that many of us in Queenstown, Wanaka and the wider region have been hanging on for the reopening of the border with Australia. It’s a vital step towards recovery.” Prior to COVID-19, 30% of all passenger arrivals and departures at Queenstown Airport were on Trans-Tasman flights. In 2019, 716,908 passengers arrived and departed on the direct Australia flights.


APA Issue 2, 2021

DIGITAL HEALTH PASSPORTS Several solutions have already entered the market from various suppliers, including AOKpass, CommonPass, IATA Travel Pass, IBM Digital Health Pass and VeriFLY, just to name a few. All enable users to create a ‘digital passport’ to receive COVID test results and verify they are eligible to undertake their journey. As briefly reported in the last issue of Asia-Pacific Airports magazine, in a hugely pioneering initiative, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) successfully conducted the trial of digital health passes on a flight between Hong Kong and Los Angeles. In the trial, Cathay Pacific air crew members role-played as passengers and took the COVID-19 test at HKG’s testing centre, with their test results sent to their mobile phones in the form of a digital health pass which were presented to the airline staff for check-in. Upon arrival at LAX, the role-playing passengers presented their digital health pass to local staff for validation and entered Los Angeles successfully. Designed to provide a simple and efficient means of checking and verifying health documents at both ends of a passenger journey, the trial was conducted in conjunction with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Cathay Pacific, The Commons Project, one of the major digital


health pass developers for international travel, and Prenetics, a COVID-19 test provider. Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) executive director of airport operations, Vivian Cheung, said: “Resumption of air travel in a safe way is our top priority. Traffic recovery is hard to be sustainable with manual handling of the paper records without error to match the requirements of each country, which could also be changed from time to time. “We will continue to work with the industry partners including the government of Hong Kong to make Hong Kong one of the first airports in the world to adopt digital health pass solutions.” As if to prove the point, it was recently announced that the SITA supported AOKpass will be utilised to support the launch of the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble when it finally happens. AAHK adds that it has been collaborating with major hub airports around the world to facilitate the adoption of digital solutions to tackle challenges such as trustworthiness of paper reports, diversified and dynamic entry requirements across countries and regions, long queues for passengers for document check, and labour-intensive checking duties for airline staff. In the same pioneering vein, Etihad Airways can claim to have been the first airline to use the IATA Travel Pass – which ratifies the travel health credentials of passengers – when it trialled the app on flights from Abu Dhabi to

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APA Issue 2, 2021 Chicago, New York, Washington DC and Toronto between mid-April and May 31. Both Etihad and IATA are hoping that it will simplify the travel process and end the current congestion at airports caused by the need to ensure that passengers have been vaccinated and are free from COVID-19. Etihad Aviation Group’s chief operating officer, Mohammad Al Bulooki, said: “With the dynamically changing health requirements for travel, Etihad believes that a digital health passport solution will provide additional clarity and ease for travellers.


WILL PASSENGERS ACCEPT DIGITAL HEALTH PASSPORTS? New research by Amadeus indicates that 90% of travellers would be comfortable using a digital health passport for future travel. Indeed, the study, commissioned by Amadeus and conducted in Asia, Europe and North America by Censuswide, claims that 41% of travellers were keen to book an international trip within six weeks of restrictions lifting.

“Etihad has partnered with IATA so that together, a globally unified approach to a travel pass can be simplified to make travel easier once governments decide what regulations are required to cross borders in either direction.”

Decius Valmorbida, president, travel, Amadeus, says: “There is no doubt that COVID-19 will continue to shape the way we travel for the months ahead, just as it influences so many other areas of our lives. Yet, while there are still uncertainties, research like this reinforces my optimism that we will build back travel better than before.

Other Asia-Pacific based airlines trialling or set to trial the IATA Travel Pass include Air New Zealand, Emirates, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Thai Smile and Vietjet Air.com

“Collaboration across governments and our industry is the key to restarting travel, as we deliver on traveller expectations outlined in this Rebuild Travel digital health survey, deploying the right technology to enable a truly connected and contactless journey.”



APA Issue 2, 2021

GLOBAL EFFORT With international travel still very much on hold because of COVID-19, it is going to take the effort of all industry stakeholders to restore global connectivity, writes James Brass from aviation consultancy, York Aviation.


he last 18 months has been profoundly strange for the air transport industry. After years of growth and expanding route networks, governmentimposed travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19 have reduced passenger numbers to a trickle and decimated route networks. The impact on the air transport industry and the employment and prosperity it supports has been profound, with hundreds of thousands of job losses worldwide and unparalleled financial losses. However, this is very much only a part of the story. The air connectivity that underpins the functioning of the global economy in terms of trade, investment, knowledge and labour flows, is currently only there in skeleton form. In Summer 2020, for example, the number of route pairs served by the world’s airports had dropped by 53% compared to Summer 2019, and, while Summer 2021 looks better, with route pairs only down around 26% compared to 2019, there is still a very long way to go.


Recovery is also uneven globally, with some regions suffering less and recovering faster (see Route Pairs by World Region graphic). For instance, Asia and North America, with their large domestic markets, dipped less and are coming back more strongly than Europe – where there has been significant second waves of COVID-19 in recent months – and the market is more reliant on international travel. The economic recovery of cities, regions and countries around the world is dependent on building back this air connectivity. The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) has estimated that aviation supported $3.5 trillion in GDP and 87.7 million jobs globally in 2018. This estimate included aviation’s role in supporting tourism, which accounted for around $1 trillion of the total, but excluded aviation’s role in supporting trade and in driving productivity through investment and knowledge flows. If these effects were included, the sector’s impact would have been significantly higher.

Route Pairs by World Region (2019 = 100) 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 2019

2020 Africa



Latin America

This highlights, at a more micro scale, the economic benefits that can be realised through route network growth. These figures help to articulate the ‘prize’ that is associated with a true and effective recovery of aviation. How governments and other stakeholders can support this recovery is a multifaceted question and the answers are not ultimately easy. Different airlines and airports are going to need different things, and needs are going to change over time as the industry builds back. However, there are some fundamental things that governments and other stakeholders can do to help the industry come back. At global and national level, bringing COVID-19 under control, vaccinating populations as quickly as possible and developing effective treatments are clearly essential. Travel is restarting, but there are many restrictions still in place. It is only with COVID-19 under control and with the necessary mitigation measures in place that travel restrictions will begin to lift and eventually disappear. This needs to be linked to restoring passenger confidence in travel. Governments have a job to do in communicating that it is safe to travel and that people can make plans in the knowledge that they will be able to travel. Just as importantly, governments and others also need to continue to support the industry financially as it recovers,

Middle Eas t

North America


providing liquidity and labour market support, so that airlines and airports are able to service the pent-up demand that will be released as restrictions are lifted. These measures are, however, largely self-evident. It is at the city and region level that much of the work around building back connectivity needs to be done. Local and regional governments, economic development agencies, tourism bodies and other stakeholders have a major role to play in rebuilding connectivity and they need to be acting now.


Separately, IATA has recently estimated that a 10% increase in aviation connectivity can increase labour productivity, which directly links to GDP, by 0.7%. The impact of individual routes can vary considerably, but previous research for the Chicago Department of Aviation has estimated the impact of a typical wide-body service at around $200 million each year, while research for Sydney Airport has estimated individual route benefits of around A$122 million each year.


The situation is improving, and recovery is starting. However, the damage across economies has been massive. There is an economic imperative facing cities and regions to stimulate economic growth and reconnecting to the world is a key part of that. For many cities and regions, key air connections will have gone or be operating at significantly reduced capacity. It is time to start developing joint strategies with their airports to bring connections back. Cities and regions also need to recognise that they have entered a period of intense competition around connectivity. A period when winners and losers in the race for economic recovery will be defined. Connectivity has always been a dynamic element underpinning economic growth. The level of connectivity available to businesses in a region or the connections to inbound tourism markets have always needed to keep pace with that available to competitor cities and regions. This has not been changed by the pandemic. The starting point has simply been reset and cities and regions are working from a lower base. The only difference is now that


APA Issue 2, 2021

supply has been reduced, is more risk averse and the economic imperative on competitor regions is stronger than ever.

Stakeholders may also need to rethink their strategies for supporting airports and airlines to reflect the scale of the challenge of building back from the pandemic.

Places where the local stakeholders work together effectively and recognise the importance of rebuilding air connectivity will have an advantage as recovery begins in earnest.

They may need to consider whether the traditional focus on business and inbound tourism routes is appropriate in the short run and whether supporting any route is, in fact, an effective way of helping their airports and to get demand moving again.

This is not a matter of simply throwing money at the problem, not least because money is not necessarily something that is in abundant supply at the moment. Stakeholders need to be making interventions that will add value and make a difference to their cities and regions. They need to ask the key questions: • What has been lost and what has been lost that matters? • What is under threat and what is under threat that matters? • What connectivity do we need back or do we need to protect in the short-term, the medium-term and the long-term? • How do we work with our airports to deliver a strategy that works for all and provides value for money? • Which airlines can deliver that for us? • What sort of support is needed and what can we, as stakeholders, deliver? • How do we ensure value for money?


With route networks so shrunken, gaining back breadth of connectivity will be important. This suggests that restoring hub connectivity may be an important focus for stakeholders in the immediate term. Stakeholders may also need to look at the means of intervention, with perhaps a greater focus on sharing risk, enabling airlines to access support for packages of routes rather individual routes, and on securing aircraft basing. Ultimately, aviation will recover. Connectivity will be restored and the industry will restore its status as a core economic driver for cities and regions globally. Local and regional stakeholders have an essential role to play in this. However, conversely, it is also vital for these stakeholders to get involved in the process of recovery to support the economic recovery of their cities and regions.



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APA Issue 2, 2021

ON THE RIGHT TRACK A new A$10 billion rail link looks set to make travelling to Melbourne Airport quicker, easier and more environmentally friendly, writes Joe Bates.


hile few Asia-Pacific airports can boast high speed rail links like the ones at Frankfurt and Zurich airports in Europe, the region is no stranger to impressive train connections with Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Incheon, Shanghai Pudong and Tokyo Narita arguably boasting some of the fastest and most convenient. And they could soon be joined by Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine) in Australia if long-awaited plans for a new rail link between the gateway and the city – and subsequently Victoria’s regional and metropolitan train network – finally come to fruition and construction work starts on the project in 2022. Talked about since the 1950s, the Melbourne Airport Rail link is still a few years off due to a targeted 2029 opening subject to relevant Victorian and Federal planning, environmental and other government approvals. However, at the time of going to press it has never been closer to becoming reality, with community and stakeholder engagement likely to provide key input into the project’s final planning and design. Part of Victoria’s Big Build, the plan is for trains to travel from Melbourne Airport (MEL) through to Sunshine Station, then into the Metro Tunnel and the heart of the Central Business District (CBD), before continuing on to the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines. For it to happen, dedicated new track will have to constructed along the existing Albion-Jacana freight corridor


between Sunshine and Airport West along with a new 550-metre long rail bridge across the Maribyrnong River. Backed by the state of Victoria and the Federal Government to the tune of A$5 billion each, supporters of the project note that for all passengers, Melbourne Airport Rail will provide: • Access to the entire public transport network including trains on the Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland lines with a single interchange • Direct access to MEL from 30 stations without the need to change trains, for passengers travelling from the CBD and the booming south-eastern suburb • A new premium station at Melbourne Airport with 10-minute services • Seamless travel to the heart of Melbourne’s CBD in under 30 minutes Australia’s Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said: “A global city like Melbourne with a major airport like Tullamarine needs a world class rail connection between the city and the airport.” He noted that the development of the “state-of-the-art connection” was expected to provide around 8,000 construction jobs. While Victoria’s transport infrastructure minister, Jacinta Allan, confirmed that the project will “give a direct connection for airport travellers into the heart of Melbourne CBD in under 30 minutes.”

At 50 metres high, it will be the second tallest bridge in Melbourne and, according to Allan, is a big part of the new rail link. She commented: “It’s fair to say that both levels of government are very keen to get into the delivery phase of this project as we finalise the planning and design work.” Fletcher added: “We know how long people have been waiting to see Melbourne Airport Rail become a reality, and these concept designs show just how much progress is happening on this transformational project.” While not directly involved in the rail link’s planning, funding and construction, Melbourne Airport is fully behind its development, which it says will make airport journeys quicker and easier for passengers and benefit the environment by reducing road traffic. On its website, the airport states that it “actively supports” the development of a rail link to Melbourne Airport, noting that it will provide a necessary addition to today’s mix of transport


Concept designs for the new bridge over the Maribyrnong River were unveiled earlier this year when the State Government described how airport trains would gradually rise to travel on new elevated twin tracks between Sunshine and the Albion Junction before descending and continuing at ground level alongside the existing freight line through Sunshine and Airport West towards the airport.

modes, as airport passenger numbers rise in the future. Indeed, MEL’s chief executive, Lyell Strambi, is quick to point out that his gateway has been a fierce advocate for rail infrastructure to the airport. He said: “International visitors to Melbourne expect rail transport from the airport. It is an expectation of a truly global city. Victorians too, have been crying out for an airport rail link as Melbourne continues its trajectory to be Australia’s biggest city by population. “We are fortunate to have plenty of room to grow on airport, with runway and terminal investment over the next 20 years forecast to service almost 70 million passengers by 2038. Our curfew-free, 24/7 operations are a huge competitive advantage for Melbourne and Victoria. “This can be a transformational infrastructure project for our community, as we prepare to start the long road to economic recovery.” Strambi added: “To be successful, the Melbourne Airport Rail Link needs to be fast, frequent and reliable. We look forward to working with government to see how these objectives will be met. “We will work constructively to make sure the airport rail link delivers the best possible passenger experience.”



APA Issue 2, 2021

HOLDING PATTERN Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) director general, Subhas Menon, praises the resiliency of the region’s airlines as the aviation industry awaits the smart, sustainable and safe restart of international travel.


o the casual observer, the Asian aviation industry should be close to collapse after the unrelenting onslaught of bad news and misfortune in the past 14 months.

Whilst true on the face of it, the reality is that the industry’s deep-rooted resilience and determination have thus far allowed it to ride-out the COVID perfect storm, and start rebuilding for a restart when the pandemic recedes. Air travel has been shuttered indefinitely since March 2020 and yet almost all airlines, though battered, bruised and visibly grounded, are still around. A good thing they are, as their endeavours are keeping global supply chains ticking and playing a crucial role in the carriage of stranded residents, essential supplies and most importantly the vaccines so vital to our recovery from the pandemic. Unimpeded growth had taken Asian airlines to the forefront of the industry, but the past year’s decimation of air travel spiralled into a massive cash-burn and liquidity crunch, the likes of which has not been experienced in the past 50 years.


Yet, airline leaders have avoided the spectacle of liquidations by raising private capital, receiving government support, cutting costs to the bone and flying more to transport goods, for which demand has sky-rocketed. This strong survival instinct, coupled with the efforts of AsiaPacific governments to keep the virus and fatalities in check, is cause for hope that air travel will turn the corner soon. The health crisis is still raging in many countries, and Asia-Pacific has not been spared from the periodic resurgence of COVID-19 cases. But, there is a growing sense that the region, which was the first to confront the virus, will soon embark on recovery, given its track record, for diffusing the worst of the virus. Control of the spread of the virus still seems to be the essential condition for the resumption of international air travel, whether it is achieved by strict controls or through mass vaccination. In the long run, everyone who can be vaccinated must be as a public health safety net. Governments will only allow

Even then, complexity remains, since there can still be reinfection and resurgence, so other established measures like, testing, tracing, tracking and thwarting the spread with health-safety etiquette, have still to be employed, together with the speedier and equitable distribution of vaccines across the world. Pent-up demand is evidenced every time restrictions are lifted as we have seen with domestic travel which has rebounded to almost 70% of 2019 levels. The need and urge to meet family and business associates after over a year, will spur demand in the VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and corporate travel markets. Some green shoots of recovery on relatively safe travel corridors finally look set to materialise after several false starts. The Trans-Tasman bubble opened on 19th of April without quarantine. But there is still many a slip between cup and lip. Travel bubbles can be cancelled at short notice if virus cases rise, as in the case of the SingaporeHong Kong travel bubble.


travel between places where the pandemic is under control and if their residents are immunised.

urgent with the requirement for health status certification for air travel. It is also timely as an industry, in keeping with the evolving values of travel consumers, to renew its wows to safety and the environment, which are perennial concerns. A major impediment is the confusing and sometimes conflicting travel policies especially when it comes to testing, quarantine and vaccination. Multi-lateral harmonisation is ideal, but a pipe dream given the multiplicity of restrictions and requirements as each government has kept its own counsel. Travel bubbles provide an effective route to co-ordinate and clarify requirements bilaterally between pairs of destinations. Many cooks spoil the broth but two heads are better than one. After a year in the deep-freeze, Asia’s air transport industry has remained resilient to the health crisis and is poised to get back in the saddle for a sustained restart of international air travel.

Yet airlines must ready for a gradual restart by adopting smart technology solutions and embracing opportunities as they have done with air cargo, for which demand is now even higher than before COVID.

Governments’ continued support not only financially but also in partnering the industry to accelerate the use of digital health certificates and biofuels for international flights, will provide the necessary impetus for a sustained recovery.

For years, the industry has been searching for digital solutions to address disparate and divergent travel requirements of different governments. The task is now

The Asia-Pacific aviation industry is waiting with bated breath to resume in a smarter, safer and more sustainable way.



APA Issue 2, 2021

REDEFINING AIRPORT RETAIL A pioneering new e-commerce initiative aims to make airport shopping at Malaysia’s airports and at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport in Turkey easier and more convenient.


alaysia Airports is one of the world’s largest airport operators in terms of passenger numbers, handling more than 141.2 million across its network of 39 Malaysian airports and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) in Turkey in 2019. Indeed, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) handled 62.3 million passengers on its own in 2019 and Malaysia’s next biggest gateways – Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Kuching and Langkawi – all recorded all-time high traffic figures that year as did SAW, which welcomed 35.4 million passengers. Such significant numbers means that Malaysia Airports can never rest on its laurels and constantly strives to find ways of doing things better to be more operationally efficient and enhance the airport experience of passengers, in line with the commitment to “hosting joyful connections” for those passing through its airports. The current COVID-19 enforced downturn in traffic has done little to change this philosophy. In fact, it has made Malaysia Airports even more determined to adapt the way it operates to meet changing customer demands, and this now extends to expanding its retail offerings beyond the traditional airport environment.


In line with this aspiration, the company launched shopMYairports, the first travel-retail e-commerce platform in Malaysia and shop@saw, the e-commerce platform of Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen. shopMYairports and shop@saw are part of Malaysia Airports’ company-wide digitalisation initiative to embrace digital transformation. As part of this initiative, the company strives to redefine the airport retail experience by providing a unique avenue for customers to purchase travel-exclusive and duty-absorbed products from the comfort of their homes. At the same time, both platforms align retail plans with current and future e-commerce trends as well as establishing Malaysia Airports’ reputation as a retail hub for the next generation of tech-savvy customers. According to eMarketer, purchasing behaviours have shifted online, with global retail e-commerce sales growing by 27.6% in 2020. In Malaysia, GlobalData analytics predicts that the growth of the e-commerce market is on a steady rise with a projected reach of RM51.6 billion ($12.6 billion) by 2024. On top of that, mind-set research suggests that 82% of Asia-Pacific travellers will change their shopping habits

to include on-ground delivery and pick-up services at the airports.

The significant growth of the e-commerce sector has certainly accelerated Malaysia Airports’ plan towards digitalisation whilst expanding its commercial reach.

In the next phase, when travel restrictions are relaxed and international borders re-open, customers can order products on the platform and have them collected at the airport or delivered to their departure gate or flight seats.

Digitalisation is also crucial in assisting airport retail partners to adapt during a global crisis. For Malaysia Airports, the wellbeing of its retail partners remains a top priority and it believes that shopMYairports and shop@ saw has successfully provided them with an additional sales avenue and expanded their market beyond the airports’ brick and mortar set-up. Malaysia Airports’ long-term digitalisation initiative is aimed at facilitating the growth of its airport retail partners and laying the foundation to transform its airports into shopping and lifestyle destinations as well as transportation hubs in line with the group’s commercial reset strategy. Moving forward, Malaysia Airports has big plans to expand the services of shopMYairports and shop@saw


when they travel in the future, making the digitalisation of airport retail more important than ever.

Furthermore, shopMYairports will include international delivery to cater to international customers looking to experience airport retail in Malaysia, which includes products that showcase the best of Malaysia to the world. As Malaysia’s main airport operator, Malaysia Airports strives to remain agile and relevant while navigating within a fast-changing consumer landscape. It believes that digitalisation will redefine the airport retail experience and provide the company with significant growth potential that will help ensure sustainable business operations for Malaysia Airports. In this regard, shopMYairports and shop@saw are leading the way in making its airports future-ready.



APA Issue 2, 2021

EVERY LITTLE COUNTS We turn the spotlight on Hamad International Airport’s efforts to enhance its waste management, green operations at Phnom Penh International Airport and carbon accreditation for Hawke’s Bay Airport. Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar’s Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) to improve its waste management. As a result, Qatar’s gateway to the world says that it will develop and modernise its facilities by implementing new, more effective methods of waste management. The MoU outlines the collaboration between MATAR – the Qatar Company for Airports Management and Operation – and the government for the management of different types of waste from DOH to the MME’s Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre. According to the airport, the objectives of the MoU include the development of an integrated system for waste separation, safe transportation, recycling and disposal of waste, and the promotion of environmental awareness and culture of sustainability at DOH.


Municipality and Environment to further enhance our waste management systems.” The airport, which celebrated its seventh anniversary in May, is confident that the new collaboration with MME will enhance its existing measures to reduce waste, greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution. Hamad International Airport’s sustainability measures also extend to wastewater management, with most water used at the airport directed to DOH’s dedicated wastewater treatment plant, which returns the treated water for irrigating the airport’s landscape features. In 2018, DOH’s treatment plant was successful in recovering 93% of wastewater for re-use. The airport insists that it continually reviews its systems to identify ways of improving its long-term efficiency and sustainability.

Hamad International Airport’s chief operating officer, Badr Mohammed Al Meer, said: “We are committed to optimising our airport operations by improving our environmental performance.

MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY GROUND HANDLING EQUIPMENT Phnom Penh International Airport – a member of the VINCI Airports network – has installed Fixed Electrical Ground Power (FEGP) units and Pre-Conditioned Air (PCA) units to cater to aircraft at parking bays.

“We are delighted to continue to contribute to Qatar’s National Vision 2030 pillar of environmental development by entering this strategic partnership with the Ministry of

The new systems, fixed under its passengers boarding bridges, allow aircraft to directly get electricity and air conditioning from the airport facilities.

VINCI Airports believes that the commissioning of the new technologies demonstrates its strong commitment to combatting climate change through its global environmental strategy, AirPact. Last October, Phnom Penh and Cambodia’s other two international airports achieved Level 2 status in ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme – the world’s only voluntary global initiative for greenhouse gas emission reductions at airports. “Despite this unprecedented crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, our network of airports continues engaging and investing in long-term initiatives that foster green development,” says Hervé Bonin, general manager of Phnom Penh International Airport.

Airport chief executive, Stuart Ainslie, enthuses: “We’ve made a conscious decision to put sustainability at the heart of our business, and this is an important step toward our ultimate goal: being New Zealand’s most sustainable airport.” Hawke’s Bay Airport achieved Level 1 status in January 2020, mapping its carbon emissions and approving a plan for reducing and offsetting. Ainslie says achieving Level 2 a year later required the airport to show that it had made meaningful change in its emissions.


Previously, auxiliary power units (APU) had been the main source of power for idled airplanes. The switch to FEGP and PCA aims at substantially reducing the use of APUs, which are noisy jet-fuel mini reactors that emit CO2, and other local pollutants, curbing operational efficiency on the apron.

“It’s a stringent process with everything verified by independent and qualified experts. It shows that our commitment to sustainability is more than just words – we’re actually on the way to making a real difference.” To date, Hawke’s Bay Airport has achieved a 12% reduction in average emissions per passenger, using the 2016-2018 period as a baseline, and Ainslie quips that they are only just getting started.

“We want our actions to not only benefit the airport stakeholders but also wider communities. Having airlines and the Cambodian civil aviation agency join this scheme is also instrumental to its success, and we want to extend our appreciation to those key partners.”

“We’ve looked at emissions that are within our control and have switched to 100% renewable and CarboNZerocertified electricity, as well as adding electric and hybrid vehicles into our fleet,” he says. “We’re now constructing a new Bikeport that will connect to our cycleways, and we’re working closely with Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay to improve wildlife habitats across the region.

SUSTAINABILITY TAKING OFF AT HAWKE’S BAY AIRPORT Hawke’s Bay Airport is taking big strides on its path to sustainability, becoming the first regional airport in New Zealand to gain a Level 2 certification under the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.

“We’ve made good progress but recognise that it’s only the beginning of a journey. We’re committed to being leaders in this space and have set a goal of being the first carbon neutral airport in New Zealand. We’ve developed a plan to help us get us there, and we’re already working towards it.”



APA Issue 2, 2021

The latest news from ACI’s Asia-Pacific and global World Business Partners.

NEW MILESTONE FOR DELHI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT’S TAXIBOT Indira Gandhi International Airport’s semi-robotic aircraft towing vehicle, TaxiBot, has successfully completed 1,000 operations, reducing the Indian gateway’s CO2 emissions by 532 tonnes and helping save 214,000 litres of aircraft fuel in the process. Introduced two years ago as part of the gateway’s goal to become a net zero carbon emissions airport by 2030, TaxiBot boasts an 800-hp hybrid-electric engine and can be controlled by the pilot in the aircraft cockpit. No actual towbar is required for the taxi, with the vehicle lifting the aircraft’s nose wheel to direct it towards or off the gate. “Delhi Airport is one of the leading airports globally in terms of adopting environmental sustainability related initiatives,” says Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO of operator Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL). “With the implementation and continuous use of TaxiBot, DIAL continues its journey of making Delhi Airport one of the most sustainable airports globally. “The reduction in carbon emissions by use of TaxiBot establishes DIAL as an environment-friendly


organisation. This is a major milestone not only for DIAL but also for the aviation sector globally in terms of promoting and adopting alternative and green taxiing solutions.” TaxiBots are jointly manufactured by TLD and Israel Aerospace Industries, with TLD sister company, Smart Airport Systems (SAS), responsible for marketing, deployment and after sales services. Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) currently uses two TaxiBots to carry out push and pull-back operations for three airlines, with the numbers set to grow to up to 15 over a period of four years. The vehicle itself has been certified by India’s civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), as well as by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the US; EASA in Europe; and the CAAI of Israel. 

 Sustainability conscious DEL is the first airport in the Asia-Pacific region and one of only four in the world to achieve Level 4+ ‘Transition’ status in ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.

BAGGAGE HANDLING SYSTEM IN INCHEON’S TERMINAL 2 TO BE UPGRADED Siemens Logistics has won a major order for the largescale expansion of the baggage handling system in Incheon International Airport’s Terminal 2.

Incheon director, HoSeok Kim, noted: “The best partner is vital for the planned capacity expansion. Siemens has proven for years that we can rely on the company’s comprehensive expertise and long-standing experience.”


In addition to supplying extensive baggage conveying and sorting technology, Siemens will be responsible for the technical project management, the layout design and

the software solutions. The project scope also includes integrating the new equipment into the existing system.

ENHANCING SECURITY AT SINGAPORE CHANGI Singapore Changi, one of the most innovative and technologically advanced airports in the world, has selected Genetec to enhance and upgrade its security systems. The three-year project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, will see Genetec Security Center – a unified security platform that blends IP security systems within a single intuitive interface – underpinning the airport’s security operations, with a specific focus on the video

surveillance system across its terminals. The contract was awarded to Genetec following a rigorous competitive tender process. “Increasingly, our airport customers are understanding the deep business insights Security Center is capable of delivering, its ability to inform and create value for multiple areas of an airport business operation and improve the overall passenger and employee experience,” said Giovanni Taccori, Genetec Inc’s commercial lead for transportation in Asia-Pacific.



Location: Thailand Type of business: Consulting and Management Contact: Thananuwat SRIRASANT E: thananuwat@aero-enable.com W: www.aero-enable.com


APA Issue 2, 2021

Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has been recognised for its safety efforts at Hong Kong International Airport, which has presented it with Safety Excellence Awards for its fuelling and baggage handling services. The ‘Extraordinary Contribution and Efforts on Airport Safety’ certificates, are signed by Vivian Cheung, Airport Authority Hong Kong’s executive director of airport operations, who also recognised the individual efforts of six members of WFS’ staff at HKG. “Safety and security are WFS’ most important core values across the company’s global network,” stated the company’s managing director for Hong Kong and Singapore, James Carey. “We are honoured to have received these awards and are extremely proud of our fuelling and baggage handling teams for upholding the highest safety standards expected by WFS and our customers. “Thank you to Airport Authority Hong Kong for their leadership through these awards and appreciation of the suppliers and partners which maintain the airport’s first-class safety culture.” AAHK’s annual Airport Safety Recognition Scheme awards recognise organisations with outstanding achievements in the field of aviation safety, occupational safety and health performance, safety promotion and culture. They honour companies which meet HKG’s strict safety targets for all areas of airport operations, including ramp safety, and aim to inspire a robust safety culture and inspection/audit programme. Based on pre-COVID operations, WFS Fueling provides into-plane fuelling services for more than 40 airlines operating some 65,000 flights per year at HKG, while WFS Holding’s baggage handling teams handle approximately 2.7 million passenger bags per month, including check-in, transfer, air-to-sea, sea-to-air and out of gauge (OOG) baggage. APA


Founded in 2018 in Songkhla, Thailand, Aero Enable specialises in aviation technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Human Health. Its expertise in aviation technology is in passenger processing systems, operational systems, aviation revenue systems, innovation technology and aviation immigration systems. The company’s focus is on providing service solutions for airports, airlines, border control agencies, travel firms and on-site hospitality companies.

NATIONAL FIREFIGHTING MANUFACTURERS FZCO (NAFFCO) Location: Dubai, UAE Type of business: Equipment Contact: Ketan Sethi E: ketan.sethi@naffco.com W: www.naffco.com/uae/en

NAFFCO was founded in Dubai, UAE, to become the world’s leading producer and supplier of life safety solutions. By recognising the importance and convenience of having easy access to multiple safety services, we became specialised by offering complete solutions under one roof for all types of high quality firefighting equipment, fire protection systems, fire alarms, addressable emergency systems, security systems, custom-made vehicle such as fire trucks, ambulances, mobile hospitals and airport rescue firefighting vehicles (ARFF).

WANZL GMBH & CO KGaA Location: Germany Type of business: Equipment Contact: Michael Tscharntke E: airport@wanzl.com W: www.wanzl.com

Wanzl Metallwarenfabrik GmbH is the world’s leading manufacturer for passenger luggage trolleys and luggage trolley systems. In addition, Wanzl offers a wide variety of solutions around entrance and exit gates enabling continuous efficiency improvement in ground operations.


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It’s time for low-touch travel. It’s time for biometrics. As we enter a new era in travel, it’s crucial that airports look to adopt biometrics. Passengers expect it. Amadeus can deliver it, right now. Sarah Samuel

Head of Airport IT, APAC

At Amadeus, we aren’t just starting to think about biometrics. We have ten years of experience in the development and delivery of airport biometrics. That’s why we can help airports respond to today’s unprecedented challenges and offer a new way to service passengers.

A job for experts in airport IT Developing biometric technology for airports requires more than just IT expertise, it requires specialist insight into airport operations and passenger movement, flow, and validation. Airports come in all shapes and sizes; some are more digitally mature than others; many are restricted by legacy infrastructure; and all need the flexibility to adapt operations in line with changing passenger requirements and demand. That’s why we developed Amadeus Biometric Solutions in collaboration with our airport customers, and in response to the growing need for low-touch passenger servicing.

Make a positive difference to the passenger experience Understandably, some passengers are nervous about returning to travel. Social distancing has become the norm and we instinctively avoid touching objects in public, where possible. This is where biometrics can really make a difference at airports. Once enrolled for biometric servicing, passengers simply look at the camera: to check-in, drop a bag, go through security, immigration, access the lounge and finally board their plane, independently and with minimal interpersonal interactions.


Make biometrics accessible to every airport It was important for our biometric solution to be easy for airports to implement. So, we built the necessary interfaces to airline departure systems, identity management providers and airport touchpoints, making our soƒware accessible via a single connection to our biometric platform. Building upon a decade of self-service and automation experience, we can now supply airports with advanced biometric cameras which, specifically designed for the airport environment, accommodate things such as dynamic lighting conditions. Supported by our product experts every step of the way, this combination of purpose-built soƒware and hardware is all airports need to implement end-to-end, biometric passenger servicing.

Discover Amadeus Biometric Solutions at amadeus.com/airports

Behind the scenes, Amadeus technology is hard at work. At every touchpoint, a photo is captured. In a matter of seconds, we match it to the identity database, validate the traveler’s trip with the airline DCS, and then authorize for the passenger to proceed. Fast, secure, streamlined and of course low touch.

It’s time to get biometric-ready! Amadeus was developing biometric technology long before the arrival of a global pandemic. Thanks to its versatile capabilities, airport biometrics will be more necessary and relevant than anyone could have predicted. A modern solution for very different times, preparing us for a new era in travel.

Profile for Asia-Pacific Airports Magazine

Asia-Pacific Airports - Issue 2, 2021  


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