UAE, UAE, DUBAI - Transport
CEO, Dubai Airports
Paul Griffiths is the CEO of Dubai Airports and is responsible for the operation and development of Dubai International as well as the recently opened Dubai World Central, which will eventually be the world’s largest airport with a capacity to handle 160 million passengers and 12 million tons of freight annually. Prior to moving to Dubai, he was managing director of London’s Gatwick Airport, the second-largest airport in the UK. He also spent 14 years with the Virgin Group, working closely with Sir Richard Branson as a board director of the Virgin Travel Group.
How has Dubai Airports incorporated innovation?
Many companies are struggling with innovation because they see it as a background or as a separate activity. Innovation is a fundamental part of what people need to move forward in today’s business world. We are constantly working on transporting people through the facility in the fastest possible time and with the best possible service. We have to reimagine the future of airports. We have to be leaders in providing aspiration, hope, and inspiration to think differently. The vision and leadership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is incredibly supportive in this endeavor. Having inherited this company from one-third of the size it is today, I would like to see it continue the same trend by thinking differently, making things happen, employing the right people, developing talent, making ourselves financially sustainable, catering for growth, and improving service quality.
In what ways is Dubai Airports creating the future of airports?
People will always rethink the role of airports in the future, but perhaps most importantly, the relationship between the ground and air products that an airport manages has to change. One interesting way to look at this relationship is through the lens of sustainability and alternative fuel sources. Alternative energy sources are much easier to implement to ground transport because there is the possibility to refill. My vision is a transport system whereby a driverless pod will turn up at your home to take you directly to your airplane. We must create competitive journeys and improve our offer, allowing the entire enterprise of Dubai to become more successful and profitable. If we can offer services that other cities and countries cannot match, people will travel with us and Dubai.
How is the Real Time DXB platform helping Dubai Airports to enhance the user experience?
Around 280,000 people go through our facilities on a busy day. We are using technology to track every single component of the passenger journey. We already have an excellent technology infrastructure that enables us to track every single activity in real time. Moreover, using the airport community app, I can look at every single area of the airport using a mobile. Another example is putting baggage systems online, so you can track your bag just by scanning your bag tag. What gets measured gets managed, so we are measuring everything we can. Recently, we went an entire week without any bag missing its transfer flight; this is a remarkable feat for an organization of our size. Using breakthrough technologies to monitor and predict what people want is the way forward.
What is the future of the airport experience?
An airport must reflect the personality of the city because it forms the first and last impression for visitors. Sometimes people do not think of airports as places of hospitality and customer service but as facilities for planes. Our challenge is to turn this idea on its head and to treat people as guests. Recently, we strived to eliminate walking distances and implemented the DXB taxi experience, a free buggy service. In the first month, 275,000 people used it. We would like to get more light in the building and cover all our roofs with solar panels so that we can source 10% of our total energy from renewable sources. There are plenty of things we are looking at, and we are working on an entire master plan.
What impression are you planning make on people coming for Expo 2020?
I want people to say their experience at Expo 2020 was fabulous in every respect. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and we are trying to achieve both a fantastic first impression and an enduring image of Dubai. Dubai has to act as a holistic city, and we have to work to make sure every single component reflects that and our tradition of excellence.