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Five Middle East Travel Innovations from Pandemics and Fierce Competition – Skift

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As we know, the world has been obsessed with digital health passports, new technologies, and automation methods since the coronavirus crisis changed the business of travel. Since then, competition for digital solutions has intensified among rival airlines and airports in the Middle East.

The Middle East is known to connect tens of millions of international passengers annually, but according to the latest data from OAG, the planned capacity of regional airlines has decreased by 57% since January 20, last year. did.

The busiest airports in the region are typically Dubai International Airport, Doha Heliport International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport, and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. However, according to the Airports Council International, in 2020, airlines in the region lost about 74% of their revenues, the fastest decline in the world. This is a loss of revenue of about $ 8 billion.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an aviation trade association, expects passenger numbers in the region to increase by about 4.3% each year, but Middle Eastern airlines are concerned with improving the social and economic benefits of aviation. , States that there are still many grounds to cover. Sector. This goes beyond introducing new technologies and improving infrastructure, as well as helping more women find careers in the industry in the region.

Many Middle Eastern travel hubs from Israel to Dubai or Doha rely primarily on international transport, but global travel restrictions continue and the strategy needs to be rethought to find new adaptations. did. Skift has put together a comprehensive list of new technologies adopted by several countries in the region to help travelers navigate better.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways has joined a “flight-friendly” movement as part of its post-pandemic recovery strategy to outperform its rivals in the region. On January 26, the country’s flagship carrier announced that it will partner with the International Air Transport Association to become the first airline in the Middle East to begin trials of the new IATA Travel Pass “Digital Passport” mobile app.

The trial is scheduled to begin in March 2021 and will allow Qatar Airways to provide passengers with a contactless and safe experience, the company said in a statement. The first phase of the trial is set to start on the airline Doha-Istanbul route. This app is a “one-stop shop” where users can receive digital Covid-19 test results and see if they can travel safely. The IATA Digital Passport is not the only technology platform that has launched the trial. Skift has previously reported on the launch of CommonPass and other similar platforms. However, while this move is welcome, there is a risk of confusing players on business trips given the lack of harmonization of requirements.

Abu Dhabi drone

Abu Dhabi Airport has partnered with the United Arab Emirates’ Tawassun Strategic Development Fund to become one of the first unmanned ground vehicles (UVG) deployments in the region. Tawazun, which means stability in Arabic, was created to strengthen UAE’s private sector investment in defense, security and aviation through investment and partnerships with SMEs. The AED 2.5 billion fund ($ 681 million) has partnered with Abu Dhabi Airport to launch a new CoDiBO TUGV designed and manufactured by one of its affiliates, UAE-based Marakeb Technologies. The UGV was piloted in May to keep aircraft cabins as clean and sterile as possible in the safest way possible. The United Arab Emirates is proud to be the “major” technology provider in the region through Malakeb.

Israel: Talk, don’t touch

It’s no wonder that companies like Touchless.ai were born in Israel, inspired by Covid-19. Called an emerging country by technology experts, Israel spends about 5% of its GDP on research and development, making it the highest country in the world. Touchless.ai is a new technology that can be used in restaurant menus and airport kiosks to help prevent the spread of coronaviruses and other infectious diseases. This technology allows users to use touch-free technology to talk to digital kiosks and has begun testing in the United States and some European countries. Created by Roy Baharv and Eyal Shapira, Touchless.ai supports English, Hebrew, Japanese, and both iOS and Android. It’s also optimized for noisy environments such as airports, and to be honest, it’s more suitable. Who really wants to touch the public screen after what the world has experienced through this pandemic?

Touchless.ai has begun testing in some European countries and the United States (Screengrab)

Dubai: Robots are coming

Dubai robots are all the rage. Since the pandemic, the Emirate has deployed bacterial-destroying robots in public facilities such as hospitals and airports. And last week, a new RoboCafe opened in the city, allowing customers to place orders and use German-made robots. In September 2020, Dubai International Airport also introduced Rahal, which means traveler in Arabic, to assist passengers at the airport. The robot is part of the customer service team at Terminal 3, the world’s largest airport terminal. Still, the robot Rahal did not help the traffic volume at Dubai Airport, which fell by 70% in 2020.

Gulf Air: Crisis Management

When the first global blockade occurred in March 2020, Gulf Air, Bahrain’s state-owned airline, began conceptual work to improve its business in partnership with travel technology provider ANIXE. .. The airline has invested in Resfinity Air of ANIXE, an internet booking solution platform. This allowed airlines to digitally shift and reassign aircraft and change seating ratios in cabin classes. ANIXE has also helped strengthen Gulf Air’s online bookings. Previously, booking changes could only be made through a call center or travel agency partner. This seems to be a long time ago, as automation is today the key to the survival of many companies in the coming years.

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