VIDEO INTERVIEW: Bahrain Airport Company, CEO

By Andrew Pentol |

Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, CEO, Bahrain Airport Company

Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) is looking forward to nurturing its relationship with Bahrain Duty Free following the opening of the new Passenger Terminal Building in January.

Established in 1991, Bahrain Duty Free was awarded new core duty free and retail contracts encompassing the old and new terminals back in 2018. Both agreements span 10 and 15 years respectively.

Speaking to TRBusiness as part of a wide-ranging exclusive video interview, Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, CEO, Bahrain Airport Company said: “The strategy is to nurture our relationship with Bahrain duty free, which has been very successful even in the old terminal. They have proven to be quite a successful concessionaire.

“We are proud of our relationship with them. I think the offering, design and investments they have made puts the airport on a par with the best in the world.”

The new facility is four-times the size of the old one with an overall built-up area of around 210,000sq m. Around 6,450sq m is dedicated to retail, while 4,300sq m is allocated to food and beverage.

SMOOTH TERMINAL TRANSITION

Reflecting on the project itself, Al Binfalah praised the airport community in ensuring a smooth transition to the new terminal.

[Click the below video for an exclusive interview with Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, CEO, Bahrain Airport Company]

“The start of operations following a new project like this cannot be assessed without reflection of the ravages of the pandemic last year. Last year was a very difficult one for the whole industry and we were in the middle of getting our plans, trials and tests in place to start the transfer.

“By the time we were set to start public trials, the pandemic had kicked in and we had to shift gear and begin planning differently.”

He continued: “One has to be very proud of the efforts the airport community has made in getting ready. We are proud to have transferred operations from the old terminal to the new one in a very seamless manner.”

Traffic has shown a positive trend since the transition, according to Al Binfalah, who revealed traffic dropped by 76% last year due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. “With airlines coming back and more frequencies being allowed, we have managed to put together a very safe and regulated environment within the terminal building.

Bahrain Duty Free secured new core category duty free and retail contracts back in 2018.

“As vaccinations continue to be rolled out, we are very optimistic traffic will pick-up and that we will see a much better trend this year as we strive to reach 2019 traffic levels.”

During the course of the pandemic, airport operators have put relief packages in place for tenants. BAC is no exception, as Al Binfalah emphasised: “Obviously, all current concession agreements concluded before moving into the new terminal became difficult to execute with the drastic drop in traffic.

“It was inevitable that we would stand by our partners and we have offered retail, food and beverage and airlines relief packages. These are linked to the progress the airport will make in terms of the restoration of traffic.

“We have already offered them the relief packages, which will be subject to continuous review. We will make adjustments as we go along.”

 

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