x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

New routes help Ras Al Khaimah airport numbers to soar

The number of travellers passing through Ras Al Khaimah International Airport has soared by 69 per cent this year.

The number of travellers passing through Ras Al Khaimah International Airport has soared 69 per cent this year.

Mohammed Qazi, the airport’s commercial and finance director, said that the increase was driven by the addition of new routes by RAK Airways to destinations including Islamabad, Pakistan; Amman; and Riyadh.

“We had anticipated a growth of 25 per cent this year, but the new routes which have been launched by RAK Airways has enhanced that number,” he said.

Business has been good across the board, with a 68 per cent increase in aircraft movements, 78 per cent rise in cargo tonnage and a 47 per cent boost in total airport revenues up to the start of last month compared with the same period last year.

The airport has implemented a new system, which went live yesterday, that will bring it up to date with other hubs in the industry and help to keep pace with the growth of RAK Airways and other airlines it wants to attract.

“It pulls together different communications strands to put them through one system that everyone benefits from,” said Andrew Gower, the chief executive of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport

“For instance, on the final approach to the airport, the radar will pick up the aircraft’s signal. There will be a system that recognises the aircraft and will tell the display screen where the passengers are waiting that the flight is now on arrival. No one has to do anything. It is totally automatic. [Before] a lot of it was done by manual processes, by calling into air traffic control,” he added.

The system will also allow the airport to monitor processes such as check-in and when bags are delivered to ensure standards are being met, while visual displays around the airport have also been updated as part of the multimillion-dirham project.

“In some ways we are probably playing catch-up a bit in terms of technology. And as opposed to just going for the one above it, we have probably leapfrogged to make sure we are ahead of the game now,” said Mr Gower.

Now that the system has gone live, the airport intends to add other elements, such as a remote check-in that will allow passengers to check-in for flights and hand their bags over from their hotels. Work is expected to begin on the project later this year.

“The main thing here is that you can check into your flight and you don’t have to carry your luggage around because most of the time you have to leave the hotel by 11am or 12pm and you actually fly later in the day, so it just takes away that hassle. You will still have to go through the security checks,” said Mr Qazi.

gduncan@thenational.ae