Dubai International is the Middle Eastʼs leading hub and second largest worldwide for international passenger traffic, providing consumers with unparalleled network reach and choice.The airport is home to more than 140 airlines serving some 260 destinations on six continents, providing consumers with unparalleled network reach and choice and is home to Emirates airline, one of the world’s leading international carriers. The size and scale of the operation is matched by the quality of infrastructure, which is highlighted by the award-winning Emirates Terminal 3 and the recently opened Concourse A.
Despite the size of the operation and rapid traffic growth, service remains a high priority and Dubai International is uniquely able to benefit from the unified and co-ordinated approach across the sector under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group.
All major stakeholders and their employees are united in the pursuit of a common goal – to better the social and economic standing of Dubai by providing high-quality products and service, which in turn will grow the industry.
Aviation supported some 250,000 jobs (19 per cent of Dubai’s workforce) and $22 billion (28 per cent of GDP) in 2010. That is set to grow to 22 per cent of employment, or 372,900 jobs, and 32 per cent of GDP, or $45.4 billion, by 2020. This in turn cements aviation’s importance and fuels the sector’s commitment to providing top-flight products and services.
Accordingly, the company strives for top scores with its principal internal customers as part of an integrated and holistic approach to improving the overall customer experience. That includes all 140 client airlines, ground services provider data, Customs and Immigration, Dubai Duty Free and other retailers, Dubai
Police and, ultimately, every single one of the 57.7 million passengers who passed through Dubai International’s three terminals in 2012.
During 2012 Dubai Airports undertook of one of the largest service measurement projects at any airport in the world. A large sum has been invested into a technical system that will integrate a series of what are known as customer ‘touchpoints’. This system will enable Dubai Airports to more accurately plan the deployment of operational resources to ensure that passengers are efficiently processed at each touchpoint in the series.
Once this is implemented – and it is hoped all high-priority areas will be online by 2013 – it will allow Dubai Airports to respond proactively in managing queuing times at key touchpoints such as check-in and security. Such intelligence is vital to ensure the best customer care in a dynamic environment and will afford the service department a large advantage.
During the period under review, Dubai Airports continued its aggressive service innovation programme, including several new technologies and systems that either improved processing time at key touchpoints or helped passengers navigate their way through Dubai International.
During 2012 Dubai Airports introduced the next generation of interactive ‘virtual assistants’, which are able to respond to passengers’ queries for information in English and Arabic.
The new technology is a world first for Dubai International and an upgrade to the virtual assistants introduced in 2011. The new virtual assistants are programmed to answer frequently asked questions such as the location of departure gates, washrooms and check-in areas, rather than just providing a static message.
The state-of-the-art assistants, which use the very latest in rear-projected audio visual technology to create the illusion of a real person, have been deployed across the airport.
Augmented Baggage Scanning Machines
Following a successful trial of new automated tray return machines at security points in Terminal 3, Dubai Airports decided to purchase 116 of the new machines, which will be installed across Dubai International during 2013.
The machines automatically circulate and queue the security trays, allowing quicker passage of passengers through the security check points and increasing by 42 per cent the number of passengers that be processed per hour from the current 280 to 400.
Not only will trays be always available to passengers approaching security points, but the screening tables on either end will be extended to allow them more time to prepare for baggage screening. This will ensure a steady flow of trays through the x-ray machines, eliminating delays.
The trays are also sized closer to the x-ray image size, allowing a greater volume of bags and personal items to be scanned in each tray while providing security personnel with better quality images.
In 2012 Dubai International continued the implementation of its ‘silent airport’ concept. The programme dramatically curtails the number of public announcements made across all three terminals at the world’s second busiest airport for international passenger traffic.
Dubai Airports, along with its strategic partners and valued passengers, have witnessed a major drop of 85 per cent in the noise level at all terminals since June 2010 with the introduction of the new Public Announcement Policy in terms of the silent airport concept. The number of announcements has dropped 22.8 per cent over the past two years, from 205,456 in 2010 to 167,263 in 2012.
At the same time Dubai Airports has enhanced the quality and presentation of data on flight information display screens located throughout the airport. Airline and airport ‘May I Help You’ staff are also actively reminding passengers to arrive at their gate on time.
Local announcement devices have been withdrawn from all areas across all terminals except in transfer areas where they are used during disruptions to normal flight schedules.
During 2012 Dubai International’s traditional information desks were replaced with state-of-the-art Information Zones, a one-stop shop that instantly provides information on all the airport’s services and facilities as well as assists with boarding and security procedures. The zones house wayfinding touchscreens in addition to staff trained to deal with all passenger queries.
The 40-inch LCD touchscreens used in the Information Zones boast new technology that allows passengers to scan their boarding passes and get directions directly to their gate. The simple-to-use screens allow those passengers with even the most basic computer skills to navigate them with ease.
The Information Zones also have new static maps where passengers can familiarise themselves with the layout of the terminals and locate all retail, food and beverage and entertainment services. Printed map cards are available at these kiosks, which passengers can take away with them.
In addition to the Information Zones, separate touchscreens and terminal maps have been installed at standalone kiosks located across the airport property.
May I Help You
May I Help You is an initiative that aims to assist passengers from the moment they set foot in the terminal, all the way through to the boarding gate. Originally launched in 2008, MIHY service has become a permanent fixture and a global benchmark. Wearing the distinctive ‘May I Help You’ blue T-shirt, the staff have been trained to assist with everything from directions to key airport procedures. More than 850 May I Help You staff are now deployed across the airport.
Simple, easy-to-understand signage is fundamental to passengers navigating their way through an airport the size of Dubai International. Based on this simple premise and industry best practice, Dubai Airports last year introduced a new alpha-numeric system for gate numbering and wayfinding at the airport.
The change impacted everything from flight information display screens to boarding cards and airport reservation systems, and required that more than 750 signs be changed.
While Dubai International terminals retain their current numbering, all concourses and their corresponding departure gates were renamed.
Concourse 1, which houses over 100 international airlines, became Concourse C with gates numbered C1 to C50. Concourse 2 became Concourse B with gates B1 to B32, and Concourse 3 became Concourse A, featuring gates A1 to A24. On the other side of the airfield, gates in Terminal 2 have been numbered F1 to F6. The remaining alpha numeric sequences are being reserved for future airport facilities that are part of the Dubai Airports’ $7.8 billion expansion programme, including Concourse D, for which excavation work commenced in June 2012.
The updating and conversion of existing signage was the first phase of a longer-term project. With Concourse A now open, a second round of upgrading, which will feature the use of colour-coding and internationally recognised icons in addition to the use of alpha-numeric gate numbering to further simplify the wayfinding process, will be rolled out in 2013.
In a bid to improve service to its customers, Dubai Airports has converted its cargo division into a 24- hour, seven-days-a-week operation.
New food and beverage facilities were also introduced at Dubai Cargo & Logisitics centre to provide its customers with a greater level of choice. Dubai Airports has also made significant progress in finalising new service standards with key stakeholders Emirates airlines and dnata.
Al Majlis VIP Service
In October 2012, Al Majlis, Dubai Airports’ VIP passenger service, opened its new, modern facility in Dubai International’s Terminal 3, providing a more central location, making connecting either to a commercial or private flight far more convenient.
The new facility is also able to better accommodate big groups with three large lounges in addition to six smaller, more intimate lounge spaces. The building has been given a fresh, more modern look while retaining all the comfort and service that customers have come to expect from Al Majlis.
While part of Terminal 3, Al Majlis will remain an exclusive service that adheres to the same privacy and security levels that were available in the past.
Launched in 1998, Al Majlis helps VIPs, celebrities, corporate groups and families ensure all travel formalities including check in, immigration and baggage are handled by a personal assistant. It co-ordinates airport and hotel transfers, limousine pick-up and drop off between aircraft and the VIP facility, special limousine door-step delivery of baggage upon request, and special parking privileges at the airport. Even a personal assistant for Duty Free shopping is available if desired.
In 2012 the number of customers using Al Majlis rose 57 per cent to 66,300, up from 42,218 in 2011, while reservations rose 30.5 per cent to 17,186, up from 13,162 in 2011.
Working with stakeholders
Integrating the entire passenger experience remains a challenge given Dubai International’s ongoing growth. As part of its efforts to improve passenger flows, Dubai Airports finalised several initiatives that will help ease passage through immigration over the coming years.
Over the past few years, the E-Gate card has been popular with residents, and during 2012 a new Smart e-Gate was trialled at Dubai International. The Smart e-Gate is equipped with a high-accuracy camera, which will eliminate the need for an eye scan as well as the need for an e-Gate card. All holders of modern passports with barcodes that can be read by the e-reader can use the e-Gate, including children above the age of seven.
The new technology paves the way for a faster and more efficient movement of the growing number of passengers travelling through the world’s second busiest airport for international passengers. The system takes only a few seconds to process each passenger.
The new Smart e-Gates are expected to be rolled out across Terminal 3 during 2013.
Dubai Airports also played an instrumental role, together with Dubai police and immigration and Emirates airline, in adopting Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) whereby airlines process their passengers’ immigration details before their arrival or departure in a country.
APIS has been introduced for arriving passengers at Dubai International and will be implemented for departing passengers by the end of 2013.
The system, once fully in place, will help ease the processing times at the airport’s immigration counters.
Customer Service Week
Achieving the service level to which Dubai Airports aspires requires the co-operation of its numerous stakeholders, including Emirates airline, flydubai, Dubai Police as well as Dubai Customs and Immigration.
For the second consecutive year, Dubai Airports took part in Customer Service Week, a global event that saw 57 volunteers, including CEOs and other high-ranking officials from 14 stakeholders, come together to personally welcome more than 2,300 passengers to Dubai International.
The event not only allows us to showcase our commitment to service delivery, but creates a platform that unites Dubai Airports and its partners in their focus to provide the best possible service to our passengers.
Dubai Airports’ efforts to enhance the customer experience have been widely recognised.
During 2012 Airports Council International, the airport industry’s guiding regulatory body, voted Dubai International as both ‘Most Improved Airport’ and ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’, the second consecutive year that it has won both awards. The most important criterion for ACI awards is its Airport Service Quality survey programme. Involving a survey of around 400 passengers each month, the feedback scores are constantly crosschecked to track improvement in service levels.
Dubai International was also named ‘Air Cargo Hub of the Year’ (Supply Chain and Transport Awards), ‘Best Airport Middle East’ (Business Traveller), ‘Best Airport’ (Asian Freight and Supply Chain Awards), ‘Airport of the Year’ (Aviation Business Awards) and ‘Best Airport for Cargo in the Middle East’ (Air Cargo Excellence Awards).