By Rob Morris
With the Airport Show 2007 fast approaching, Aviation Business looks at some of the exhibitors and this year's main attractions.
Planning a Middle East airport show amid the 9/11 aftermath was never going to be easy. With the industry's biggest players struggling to cope following the fallout, the chances of an aviation exhibition organiser hosting a successful event were remote. Nevertheless, while a dark cloud loomed over the sector, attendance figures at the Airport Show 2002 - which showcases airport construction, operations, technology and services - proved that confidence was still high among some executives.
Indeed, the event five years ago had 90 exhibitors, attracting some 1379 visitors. Since then the figures have climbed significantly, with demand for exhibition space up 30% compared with 2006. This year, some 500 exhibitors and 5000 visitors are expected to attend the show, which takes place at Airport Expo Dubai between 28-30 May. The event is divided into three main categories: build, supply and operate:
• Build concentrates on planning, design, construction, interiors, building materials, architecture.
• Supply is more geared to technical systems and installations, security, lighting, ramp equipment, communications and IT.
• Finally, operate covers handling, catering, maintenance, management, fuelling, emergency, environmental monitoring and air traffic control.
Several exhibitors have confirmed attendance, including Emirates Group. The government-owned company, which provides aviation and airport ground handling services, recently announced that Emirates Airline, Dnata and SkyCargo will be at the event. The group's itinerary involves promoting several lines of technology, including equipment for aircraft access, baggage and cargo handling, loading and refuelling.
For Nick Webb, director of Streamline Marketing Group, Emirates is one of the show's major draws. "One of the new features for the Airport Show 2007 will be a dedicated ground handling conference that will cover both market intelligence and topical issues in the world of ground handling," he says.
Aside from baggage and cargo facilities, Emirates will have procurement specialists at the event. The group's in-house experts will be showcasing new technologies and briefing industry suppliers on the equipment required for their existing operations at Dubai International Airport. Saeed Mohammed, senior vice president of procurement and logistics for the Emirates Group, believes the Airport Show is crucial for keeping aviation specialists and analysts abreast of industry developments.
"We are very excited to be participating in The Airport Show and intend to use the event to source new technologies, explain our future equipment requirements and brief industry suppliers on our procurement policies and how they can do business with us," he adds.
A conference based on air traffic control is another key feature at this year's event, with ATC chiefs, specialists and consultants from Europe, India and the Middle East expected to attend.
Topics for Air Traffic Control Middle East (ATCME) range from forecasting air traffic for 2010 and beyond and new technologies for optimising airspace. The conference will also focus on infrastructure needed to help air traffic controllers cope with increased air traffic. Mohamed Ahli, operations director for Dubai Department of Civil Aviation, believes the conference, which is taking place for the first time this year, will confirm Dubai's reputation as one of the world's most technologically advanced aviation hubs.
"We are looking to hold a major ATC conference in Dubai on the same level as world-leading events like ATC Maastricht in the Netherlands, and Air Traffic Control Middle East is an important starting point for this," Ahli says. "Dubai is an ideal location as it is situated in the centre of Asia with easy access to the Far East and Europe. We look forward to welcoming the leading ATC experts from round the world to the conference in May and gaining insights into the latest technologies, techniques and procedures."
The ATCME conference will also cover developments at Dubai International Airport. Indeed, statistics provided by the seminar's organiser reveal that the airport's 113 scheduled airlines and 25 frequent charter airline operators handled 237,258 flights in 2006. It's estimated that 70 million passengers will pass through the airport from 2009 when the $4.1 billion expansion project at concourses 2 and 3 and Terminal 3 are complete.
Elsewhere, the seminar will report on the installation of radar technology, which detects debris on taxiways and runways at DIA. It will also focus on the $8.2 billion development of Dubai World Central International Airport in Jebel Ali. Promoted as the largest airport in the world, DWCI will utilise the latest radar, air traffic management and instrument landing technology.
Security is one of the major issues for the upcoming show, with Aviation Security Middle East taking place on May 30. Speakers include the General Civil Aviation Authority's Ahmad Al Haddabi, who will be talking about risks at airports, and Patric Marshall from World Check on securing the gateway to Iraq. Other topics for discussion include technology trends, real time issues of aviation security and how vulnerable aircraft are to terrorist ground attacks. Industry figures keen to learn about ground handling developments can attend Ground Handling Middle East, which is organising seminars for both days in May. The conference will cover several issues, including budget carriers and safety precautions for ground handling units. It will also focus on privatising firms across the aviation sector.
Companies with success stories to tell are also attending this year's event. Indeed, Cavotec, a Dubai-based company that supplies ground support systems to Middle East airports, has experienced substantial growth since 2006. The company's turnover is up to $27 million from $16 million, with management targeting a further 20% increase by the close of 2007.
Recent work contributing to Cavotec's growth includes installing 120 pop-up units in the new Emirates Engineering hangar at Dubai International Airport.
The company, which provides equipment for supplying water to grounded aircraft, is also delivering similar systems for 27 gates at DIA's Concourse 2.
With the company in rude health, Cavotec's directors are keen to expand its facilities in the Jebel Ali Free Zone. Plans are underway to quadruple the size of the business by extending its offices and warehouses.
The Airport Show takes place on the 28-30 May 2007 at Airport Expo, Dubai