Interview: Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah
What is the strategy for developing local human resources for the new airport terminal?
MOHAMED YOUSIF AL BINFALAH: Recruiting Bahraini professionals and developing their skills is essential to BAC’s growth strategy. For instance, we aim to increase our Bahrainisation ratio from the current 80% to more than 90% by the end of 2021 through our ongoing recruitment and training initiatives.
However, implementing the new terminal’s advanced equipment and IT systems requires expertise not available locally. Bahraini employees are being retrained to work in these specialised disciplines so that they can seamlessly transition into their new roles and responsibilities. As such, one of our most important capacity-building initiatives is the four-year Tahleeq programme, which aims to train the future leaders of Bahrain’s aviation industry and provides participants with mentoring, and advanced theoretical and practical training courses.
The advancement of women in the aviation industry is also paramount. Our Equal Opportunity Committee integrates women’s needs into the recruitment and selection process, ensuring they have the chance to realise their potential.
How does the new airport relate to the broader goals of the Bahraini economy?
AL BINFALAH: The Bahrain Airport Modernisation Programme (AMP) will play a major role in enhancing the aviation sector’s contribution to the national economy, in line with the Bahrain Vision 2030. It will also allow us to provide improved levels of service to our national flag carrier, Gulf Air, which will benefit from having a modern centre with more space and facilities from which to operate.
Although the new terminal is the most significant element, the AMP comprises multiple projects that will enhance the infrastructure of Bahrain International Airport (BIA), as well as its facilities and services, transforming it into a driver of national economic growth. We are developing a fuel farm complex at the airport that will reinforce Bahrain’s position as a centre of aviation fuel services in the GCC, helping to elevate BIA’s service offerings to airlines. We are also developing a new private general aviation terminal that will meet the needs of private jet owners and users. Another ongoing project is the development of a new cargo area comprising warehouses, aircraft parking and associated infrastructure aimed at improving BIA’s cargo operations. These projects demonstrate that the airport can become an enabling force for much wider and diversified economic activities.
In which areas have challenges arisen regarding the coordination of the Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) procedure?
AL BINFALAH: Design and construction work for the new terminal is proceeding at a fast pace. Therefore, the challenge is ensuring the readiness of more than 5800 staff and service providers who are currently undergoing a series of familiarisation and contractor training workshops. The new terminal’s advanced systems and equipment will require considerable skill to operate, which is why testing the readiness of systems, processes and employees is so important. So far, more than 1300 employees have been trained.
Another challenge was reengineering the airport’s business model, as several responsibilities between BAC and some stakeholders had to be realigned. We also had to update regulation certifications from Civil Aviation Affairs, Bahrain’s aviation regulator.
Before we can confidently launch the new facility, we must be certain that it functions safely, efficiently and effectively. We are now at the trials stage of the ORAT procedure, which should allow us to identify additional staff training, equipment and operational needs ahead of the inauguration.
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