CEO Kjeld Binger, leads Airport International Group into a 2nd decade of success.
Airport International Group is marking a decade of managing Jordan’s prime gateway to the world, Queen Alia International Airport.
Since assuming responsibility for the rehabilitation, expansion and operation of Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) under a 25-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) concession agreement in 2007, Airport International Group has ushered in a new era for the airport, transforming it into what it is today, the Kingdom’s prime gateway to the world.
Over the past decade, QAIA has undergone major redevelopments, the most remarkable of which was the construction of a new terminal, inaugurated in March 2013. This was followed by a multitude of improvements including an additional expansion to the new terminal, a revamped runway and new Duty-Free shopping areas and travel lounges, to name a few.
Airport International Group CEO, Kjeld Binger, says 2018 will see further additions that will make traveling through QAIA a more pleasurable experience for passengers, as well as the implementation of competitive strategies and innovative projects to ensure continuous progress.
Airport International Group is marking 10 years of running QAIA. What are the Company’s most prominent achievements?
Our biggest achievement this decade is undoubtedly the opening of QAIA’s state-of-the-art new terminal project in March 2013, under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah. Additionally, the second phase of the project, was completed in 2016 under the patronage of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah, which raised the airport’s annual passenger capacity to up to 12 million passengers and the total number of active gates to 25.
Further achievements include the inauguration of the Northern Runway in September 2017. In addition, in August 2017, QAIA marked its highest monthly passenger traffic total ever in its 34-year history when it received a record-breaking 938,427 passengers.
From another standpoint, our success can be easily measured by our extensive portfolio of awards. For example, earlier in the year, we were thrilled to learn that QAIA was awarded several accolades by the Airports Council International (ACI) based on the results of the 2016 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Survey, the world’s leading airport passenger satisfaction benchmark program.
These included first place in the category ‘Best Airport by Size and Region: Middle East’, which comprises airports serving five to 15 million passengers annually within the region; as well as second place in the overall ‘Best Airport by Region: Middle East’ category.
On the global level, QAIA tied for third place in the ‘Best Airport by Size’ category with four other airports of the same annual passenger capacity around the world. In 2016, QAIA received first place in the category of ‘Best Airport by Region: Middle East’ according to the 2015 ASQ Survey; while in 2015, QAIA came in first in the categories of ‘Best Airport by Region: Middle East’ and ‘Best Improvement by Region: Middle East’ according to the 2014 ASQ Survey.
Moreover, QAIA won the Silver award in the ACI Asia-Pacific Green Airports Recognition 2017, which was held under the theme ‘Energy Management’ this year, coming in third place in the category of airports with less than 25 million passengers per year.
Back in 2013, QAIA first became Airport Carbon Accredited (ACA), making it the second to do so in the region, in recognition of its carbon-reduction policies. Since completing the first ACA level, ‘Mapping’, QAIA went on to become the first airport in the Middle East to achieve the second level of ACA, ‘Reduction’ in 2015.
As of 2017, QAIA has maintained its Airport Carbon Accreditation, after earning the third ‘Optimization’ level last year. In light of our continuous efforts to improve the airport’s overall environmental efficiency, we look forward to completing the 3+ level of carbon management accreditation, ‘Neutralization’, by 2018.
In 2013, QAIA was named as one of the world’s top 40 public-private partnership (PPP) projects, receiving ‘Gold’ recognition as Best Emerging Market Infrastructure Project for Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa in Emerging Partnerships. The award is co-released by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Infrastructure Journal (IJ), and is funded by the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF).
In light of our tenth anniversary and of this repertoire of accomplishments, I extend my sincerest appreciation to our shareholders, partners, stakeholders and the employees of both Airport International Group and QAIA, without whom, none of these accolades would have been possible. With their unwavering loyalty and determination to be the best, we can confidently look forward to continued success.
How did the 2017 figures for passenger, aircraft movement and cargo compare to those of 2016?
With our current statistics, 2017 is looking to be another remarkable addition to QAIA’s track record of success, as more than 6.8 million passengers have been welcomed until the end of October, representing a 6.6 percent increase from the same period last year. Aircraft movement figures also went up slightly, coming in at 63,445, indicating a 1.4 percent growth from the same period in 2016, while cargo traffic figures registered a notable year-to-date increase of 7.5 percent, settling at 90,433 tons.
What are the most important developments of the airport’s infrastructure that occurred during 2017?
The most prominent development occurred in September, with the official inauguration of the Northern Runway at QAIA under the patronage of His Excellency Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki, represented by the Minister of Transport Jameel Mujahed. This addition to the Airport will have a significant impact on enhancing the operational efficiency and capacity of the airport in addition to its competitiveness on both regional and international levels.
What are the most prominent logistical and technological services provided by the Airport this year?
Technology is a key driver of innovation and is at the heart of all operations at QAIA. As such, we strive to stay updated on all technological advancements and to implement them in order to deliver the best service possible.
In 2017, we capitalized on our integrated Information Technology and Telecom (ITT) systems to provide services that improve operational efficiency and deliver value across the entire airport. One of these services is an in-house developed Flight Approaching Notification System designed to ensure holistic, real-time information sharing across the airport community and with stakeholders, including the Operations Control Center, air traffic control tower, airlines, ground handlers and other relevant authorities.
This system allows for greater collaboration and a quicker decision-making process within the airport ecosystem, subsequently enhancing the passenger experience. Furthermore, QAIA is also in full alignment with industry standards in order to provide more choice and more control for passengers during their airport journey.
In collaboration with the relevant authorities, we have implemented the ‘home-printed boarding pass’, which significantly facilitates the travel experience for business travelers and passengers who have no checked-in luggage. They can go straight to passport control, thus contributing to shorter queues and wait times at the counters.
Ten of our current airlines have adopted this concept including Royal Jordanian, British Airways, Air France, Fly Dubai and others. Our next step will be the activation of the ‘mobile boarding pass’, which will also help speed up and facilitate passengers’ check-in and boarding procedures even further.
QAIA inaugurated the second phase of the new terminal a year ago. How important was this particular expansion to the airport?
2016 saw the completion of the second phase at QAIA, which marked an essential moment in Airport International Group’s decade-long journey at QAIA. The Airport has also been equipped with infrastructure necessary to accommodate large aircraft, including the world’s largest airplane, the double-deck Airbus A380.
The standards of service at QAIA were further elevated through the addition of more cutting-edge facilities, which in 2016 included two new Duty-Free areas and four new prayer rooms, as well as 10 travelators, larger monitors, additional charging stations and an upgraded Wi-Fi system.
What other expansions and new services are expected for QAIA in 2018 and beyond?
We have many other plans in the works, to be implemented in the near future to further bolster operations at the airport, including an upgrade of the baggage handling system. The preliminary phase of this upgrade is already underway, and its implementation will start in 2018. This project represents a JD45 million ($63.9 million) investment and is expected to be completed by 2020.
In addition, plans to build a 10-MW solar plant at the airport are in the final phase of negotiations, with construction scheduled to start in 2018. The plant is expected to provide the airport with clean and renewable energy to cover 50 percent of overall electricity consumption.
Essentially, our ultimate goal is to continue to develop basic infrastructure to increase passenger capacity to 16 million by 2032, further establishing QAIA as a regional center for leisure and business travel.
When will we see more low-cost carriers (LCCs) arriving at QAIA?
Increasing the number of low-cost carriers that operate through QAIA is a major goal for Airport International Group. QAIA has helped facilitate numerous bilateral and Open Skies agreements, increasing Jordan’s accessibility and attractiveness to both tourists and investors. According to International Civil Aviation Organization figures, in 2016, LCCs accounted for 28 percent of all passenger air traffic, demonstrating just how much the global demand for affordable air travel has grown.
Though the LCC market in the Middle East may not be growing as fast as in other regions, our goal is to attract LCCs to open new routes from QAIA by providing competitive offers and incentives.