Published on Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Airport boss considers replacing shops with cinemas and bowling alleys

Dubai Airports is considering replacing retail units with cinemas and bowling alleys in a bid to claw back revenue it fears will be lost forever to online shopping after Covid-19.

The airports' CEO, Paul Griffiths, says a radical rethink is needed after what he describes as a 'sinister long-term effect' of the pandemic, with more people saying they will continue to shop online post-Covid.

He's also considering an in-flight digital catalogue system where passengers browse for products at their leisure, order them, then pick them up on arrival at the airport.

If it's a success, it could mean a reduction in landing fees for participating airlines.

He said Dubai Airports, which owns and manages Al Maktoum International and Dubai International airports, could see shops replaced by more service and entertainment units, such as cinemas, bowling alleys and more business centres.

He said: "A sinister long-term effect of Covid is that online retail has done really well. Airlines and airports need to think of a new model.

"It takes 24 minutes to consider a duty free purchase. Let's use that eight to 10-hour flight before people arrive at the airport to select from a digital catalogue, then pick their purchases up when they land."

He told airlines: "You provide us with the customers and you can land for free."

Griffiths was speaking at the International Tourism and Investment Conference at WTM Virtual.

Also at the conference, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark said the airline could act as a global distributor for the Covid-19 vaccine from Dubai.

He said the airline already has a pharmaceutical distribution hub, from where it had transported medical and PPE equipment during the pandemic.

"We can get the vax across the planet within three to four months of production," he said.

By TravelMole reporters

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