What’s in store for Hamad International Airport

At Passenger Terminal Expo 2022, International Airport Review Editorial Assistant, Lily Mae Pacey, sat down with Sujata Kumar Suri, Vice President of Strategy and Commercial Development at Hamad International Airport, to discuss the future passenger journey and how digital changes made during the COVID-19 pandemic are here to stay.

During November and December 2022, Hamad International will be the main airport welcoming passengers visiting Doha for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and is expected to handle between 34 million and 36 million passengers this year. With this is mind, and particularly with the airport industry navigating its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamad International Airport is refocusing on a premium passenger experience whilst integrating necessary digital enhancements and trends.

Digitalising the passenger experience

Suri outlined how the digital passenger journey begins with the use of biometrics at check-in and the immigration process and is now being extended to boarding and gate control.
“We’ve introduced digital touch points across all important process points, and we are testing technologies to have a single point of control, as the idea is to provide a specific experience that every passenger segment wants.”

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) passenger numbers to, from and within the Middle East are expected to reach 81 per cent of 2019 levels in 2022, 98 per cent in 2024 and 105 per cent in 2025. Following on from this, Suri expressed how it is ‘clearly’ the younger or Millennial passenger segment that is more willing to fly with the adoption of digitalisation and mobile devices throughout the airport journey, and this has been evident at Hamad International.

Recently, the airport has introduced an innovative ‘Digital Twin’ initiative as part of its smart airport programme, this provides a real-time, holistic view of the airport through intuitive combined 3D modelling techniques, data-analytics, and artificial intelligence. Through the adoption of this breakthrough technology, Hamad International will be able to improve its operations and benefit the passenger experience, benefit airline partners, as well as airport stakeholders.

The remaining human factor

Despite the integration of digital technology to provide a safer and more efficient passenger airport journey, the human factor of airport staff should never be completely erased. For the individuals with complex situations, Suri said that “the ultimate comfort factor for anybody is that they can rely on a human and the moment somebody finds themselves in a spot of trouble, we all look for the human to come to our aid. So, for us, we invest in both types of airport experience.”

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