Digitalization to propel sustainability of Saudi Arabia's airports

13 June 2024 2 min. read

Saudi Arabia has unveiled a grand vision for its aviation sector, with a massive $50 billion of investments set to flow to the country’s airports. In sync with expansion, airports will increasingly place digital-enabled sustainability at the heart of their strategies, according to leaders from Frost & Sullivan.

The aviation and travel industry faced unprecedented challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, with airports especially being impacted. Despite the initial disruptions, global air traffic has largely returned to pre-Covid levels.

While the pandemic shifted operational, financial, and priorities for airports and their ecosystem stakeholders, airports now focus on key areas crucial for future development.

Digitalization to propel sustainability of Saudi Arabia's airports

According to Hani Al Sayed and Micheal Rowe, both leaders at Frost & Sullivan, the resurgence of air travel underscores the critical need for airports to focus on digitalization and sustainability, driven by investments in technology and process automation. These advancements optimize operational planning, enhance passenger flow, improve asset management, build flexibility, and reduce the carbon footprint of operations.

Hani Al Sayed, Vice President and KSA Country Leader at Frost & Sullivan, says that Saudi Arabia is flying in the front-pack of airport digitalization and sustainability efforts. “Saudi airports have heavily invested in modernizing their infrastructure and processes, deploying the latest technologies to enhance efficiency, passenger experience, and environmental sustainability. The investment opportunities within the Kingdom’s airports exceed $50 billion.”

King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah has implemented advanced biometric systems, self-service kiosks, and data analytics to streamline passenger flows. Meanwhile, the newly opened Neom Bay Airport is designed as a fully digital, sustainable, and autonomous airport of the future.

In terms of sustainability, the Saudi aviation authority has set ambitious goals to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the nation’s airports by 2060, in line with the Kingdom’s broader sustainability commitments. This involves initiatives such as using renewable energy, electrifying ground operations, and implementing circular economy principles.

Micheal Rowe, Growth Global Practice Area Leader and Vice President for Aerospace & Defense, said: “The ongoing digitalization journey of airports is gaining momentum, particularly in connection to sustainability – an imperative that is critical not only for the industry but for the entire world. Investments in technology and process automation drive this digital shift.”

“As we move forward, these efforts signify a serious commitment to resilience and progress in the face of past challenges.”