As many as nine million passengers are expected to travel through Bahrain International Airport (BIA) by the end of next year, signalling an almost complete recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the operator’s top official has said.

Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) chief executive Mohamed Al Binfalah further told a fireside chat during the Bahrain-hosted International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Passenger Symposium (WPS) 2022 that 2022 is exceeding expectations with approximately 6.5m passengers expected to travel through BIA by the end of the year.

According to him, keeping passenger experience central to the company’s recovery strategy builds on the launch last year of BIA’s new passenger terminal – the most modern and passenger-friendly boutique airport in the region.

“And we have seen the results; like the rest of the world, we were badly affected, losing more than 75 per cent of our usual traffic in 2020,” he explained.

The official advocated focus on passenger experience, insisting it is essential to the recovery of the global aviation industry.

Mr Al Binfalah said: “With their routines having been disrupted for an extended period of time, it can be difficult for some passengers to return to regular air travel. Encouraging them to fly again requires a concerted effort by the global aviation industry, including airports, airlines, travel agents, regulators, and governments.”

The chief executive of BAC was part of a three-member panel participating in the opening session, which included IATA director general Willie Walsh and Gulf Air chief executive Captain Waleed Al Alawi.

The discussion revolved around the aviation industry’s post-pandemic state, the opportunities and challenges it offers, and its future.

Under the theme ‘Unlocking Value Creation by Putting the Customer First’, this year’s WPS at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain Convention and Spa combines the former ‘Digital, Data and Retailing Symposium’, the ‘Global Airport and Passenger Symposium’ and the ‘Accessibility Symposium’ into a single event to reflect the importance and connectedness of all three elements to the customer experience.

The event features plenary sessions spotlighting the challenges and opportunities shaping the aviation industry and providing a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practices.

In addition, there are three knowledge tracks that address the end-to-end customer journey, covering everything from shopping and purchasing air travel products to destination arrivals.

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