SINGAPORE – Passengers' baggage is collected by robots, they relax in a luxurious waiting area and then get a face scan and swiftly pass through security and immigration -- this could be the airport of the future. Planners hope this vision will become reality as new technology is rolled out, transforming the exhausting experience of lengthy lines in aging, overcrowded terminals into something far more pleasant. The Asia-Pacific region has been leading the way but faces fierce competition from the Middle East as major hubs compete to attract the growing number of long-haul travelers who can choose how to route their journey. The regions "are the two leading pockets of technology growth because they are really competing to be the global hubs for air transportation," said Seth Young, director of the Center for Aviation Studies at Ohio State University. "If I'm going to fly from New York to Bangalore, do I transfer through Abu Dhabi or Dubai, or do I transfer through Hong Kong?
Passengers' baggage is collected by robots, they relax in a luxurious waiting area complete with an indoor garden before getting a face scan and swiftly passing through security and immigration -- this could be the airport of the future. It's a vision that planners hope will become reality as new technology is rolled out, transforming the exhausting experience of getting stuck in lengthy queues in ageing, overcrowded terminals into something far more pleasant. The Asia-Pacific has been leading the way but faces fierce competition from the Middle East as major hubs compete to attract the growing number of long-haul travellers who can choose how to route their journey. The Asia-Pacific has been leading the way toward the airports of the future. 'If I'm going to fly from New York to Bangalore, do I transfer through Abu Dhabi or Dubai or do I transfer through Hong Kong?
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A Yemen rebel drone strike this week on a critical Saudi oil pipeline shows that the otherwise-peaceful sandy reaches of the Arabian Peninsula now are at risk of similar assault, including an under-construction nuclear power plant and Dubai International Airport, among the world's busiest. U.N. investigators said the Houthis' new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 km (930 miles). That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two main opponents of the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen, within reach of drones difficult to detect and track. Their relatively simple design, coupled with readily available information online, makes targeting even easier, analysts say. "These installations are easily findable, like on Google Earth," said Tim Michetti, an expert on illicit weapons technology with experience in Yemen.
Following a Monday ban by security agencies in the U.S. and U.K. on large electronics in cabins on flights from several countries in the Middle East, analysts predicted carriers whose hubs were subject to the ban, such as Qatar Airways and Emirates, might find themselves with empty business class seats, while European airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa, could capitalize on their losses. "Hubs that don't impede the productivity of long-haul business travelers," like Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and London's Heathrow Airport, by allowing them to work on their laptops during flights would likely charge higher prices "at the expense of the Middle East," J. P. Morgan airline expert Jamie Baker told CNN, which compiled a list of the airlines that would fare the worst. Under the U.S. ban--which involved 10 international airports in or near Kuwait City, Amman, Cairo, Istanbul, Casablanca, Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Saudi Arabian cities of Jeddah and Riyadh--the airlines Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Saudia and Turkish Airlines would be hit hardest, according to the broadcaster. The "tech-heavy corridor between the U.S. and India," which often involves layovers or transfers in the Middle East, would be a major area of lost business for the airlines in the region covered by the new security measures, Baker added. The International Air Transport Association predicted that India will host the fastest-growing air national travel market over the next couple of decades, according to a 2015 report.
An estimated 7 million drones will be flying in the skies by 2020; Claudia Cowan reports on the new technology being developed to keep airports safe. But some people either don't care or use drones to intentionally disrupt airport operations. Last December, drone sightings at London's Gatwick Airport forced a three-day shutdown, and canceled flights left thousands of stranded passengers scrambling. No one has been arrested in the case, and this past April, investigators said it could have been an inside job. In recent months, suspected or confirmed drone activity has grounded flights in Dubai, New Zealand, Israel, and at Newark Airport in New Jersey.