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Middle Eastern airports embrace sustainability and tech amidst rising passenger expectations

RIYADH: Middle Eastern airports are prioritizing sustainability, eco-friendly infrastructure and renewable energy to combat climate challenges, a recent study showed. 

In its latest report, Bain & Co., a management consulting firm, also underscored the rising demand for seamless and personalized travel experiences driven by evolving passenger expectations. 

To address this, regional airports are also heavily investing in digital solutions that offer real-time communication and integrated mobility platforms. 

Discussing the growing emphasis on sustainability initiatives among the region’s airports, Akram Alami, Middle East head of utilities, aviation, and sustainability & responsibility practices at Bain & Co., said: “They aim to reduce their environmental impact through efforts like achieving carbon-neutral certification, designing eco-friendly infrastructure, and adopting renewable energy.” 

He added: “These initiatives are part of a broader strategy to address climate change and meet passenger expectations for more sustainable travel options.”  

The report also highlighted that airports in the region face several obstacles while implementing these sustainable practices, including high expenses for renewable technologies and regulatory issues. 

“Key challenges include high initial costs for green technologies, regulatory constraints, and the need for stakeholder alignment. Technological limitations and the need to integrate sustainability into existing infrastructure without disrupting operations also pose significant challenges,” noted Ilya Yamshchikov, associate partner at Bain & Co. Middle East.  

The report stated that other factors driving the growth of airports in the region include the adoption of technology and the commitment to meeting passenger expectations. 

Moreover, digital biometric screening and contactless services are streamlining security and boarding processes, it added. 

The US-based firm further pointed out that airports are also leveraging technologies like computed tomography baggage scanners and body scanners to expedite security checks without compromising safety. 

“These trends are expected to continue shaping the development of airports, leading to more efficient and passenger-centric facilities. They will significantly transform airline operations and the overall travel experience, making air travel more accessible, enjoyable and sustainable for future generations,” said Mauro Anastasi, partner and a member of the Aviation practice at Bain & Co.  

In December 2023, Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Airports Co. partnered with Cognizant to bolster its digital capabilities in finance, human resources, procurement, and planning, with the goal of enhancing traveler experience. 

Moreover, in November 2023, Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation, stated that the Kingdom is working to finalize a comprehensive systematic plan to address environmental sustainability in the aviation sector. 

In terms of passenger expectations, a report released by GACA in April revealed that all airports in Saudi Arabia that received passenger complaints in March resolved them on time. 

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