Building Resilience in the African Aviation Industry: Insights from Javed Malik

Learn how African airports can build resilience and attract investors with practical strategies from Javed Malik.

Building Resilience in the African Aviation Industry: Insights from Javed Malik
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In today's unpredictable business landscape, building resilience has become a crucial goal for African aviation leaders. To help them navigate these uncertain times, the AviaDev Insight podcast gathers insights from a diverse range of experts who identify practical strategies for strengthening African businesses against future challenges.

In a recent episode, host Jon Howell sat down with Javed Malik, Chairman of the Advisory Board at Ink Innovation and a seasoned industry leader, to discuss the future of travel and explore the possibilities for innovation in the African aviation sector.

Continue reading to learn the key takeaways from their conversation and explore how African airports can position themselves for success in the years ahead.

Beyond travel hubs: non-passenger revenue for airports

Javed Malik and Jon Howell discussed the importance of non-passenger revenue streams. Javed, who was the CFO of Bangalore International Airport, emphasised that airports are more than just logistic spaces or travel hubs – they are living cities. To succeed, airports must consider aspects like accessibility, sustainability, and the integration of green spaces.

Javed provided an example of this approach in action with the development of The Quad, a pop-up retail space built from discarded shipping containers during the construction of a new secondary terminal at Bangalore airport. Originally intended to be in use for only two years, The Quad proved so popular that local communities and the state government refused to allow the airport to demolish it. The space has become a community park with pubs and bars, and people come from far away to attend events and celebrate their weddings there.

As Javed noted, The Quad is an example of the potential revenue streams that airports can develop by thinking outside the box and positioning themselves as more than just places to catch a flight. Becoming destinations in their own right can help airports build resilience and maintain profitability even when passenger traffic is low. This approach can be particularly valuable for airports in Africa that struggle to tackle the challenges of high operational costs and limited infrastructure.

How African Airports Can Attract Investors

Attracting investors is crucial for airports looking to expand their operations. During the AviaDev Insight podcast, Javed Malik highlighted several strategies that airports in Africa can use to position themselves as attractive investment opportunities. One approach is to explore joint development opportunities with partners, such as co-developing land and sharing revenue. 

Airports can also look beyond traditional developers and freight forwarders and consider collaborating with companies that offer unique marketing or supply chain products, for example startups.

'Airports are there for the long term. So there's stability, there's the reliability of the asset class itself. And so you can work long-term deals, which allows the investor to really see better returns for themselves.'

Javed Malik
Chairman of the Advisory Board at Ink Innovation

Improving airport dwell time with Ink technology

When asked by Jon about technology that could make a difference in the African aviation industry, Javed mentioned two in-demand solutions. The first, Ink Mobile Agent, is an agent app that can service passengers away from conventional desks. The second, Ink QuickTag Lite, enables quick printing of bag tags. These solutions reduce waiting times but also increase airport capacity and improve customer satisfaction. 

Javed highlighted that Ink’s technology has a strong focus on increasing passenger waiting times in airports. This is a balancing act between the airlines' and airports’ expectations, as the former want passengers to board as quickly as possible, while the latter want them to spend more time shopping and exploring the terminal. Ink solutions help to achieve this balance by providing real-time data on a passenger's location and status, allowing airlines to relax knowing that their customers are in the airport and ready to board on time. It also allows airports to offer value-adding experiences that are enjoyable for passengers. 

African aviation’s tech-driven future

Javed Malik's excitement about the future of Africa is palpable. He sees immense opportunities for reducing travel operating costs through the adoption of smart solutions like FinTech and payment systems. 

The expert also recognises the importance of government policies that enable local businesses to be part of this growth, and the positive impact of China's technology in Africa. Moreover, he believes that if Africa can connect itself better, becoming one African Union, aviation will take off and inter-Africa businesses will flourish. 

In terms of the upcoming AviaDev Africa, Javed is looking forward to listening to the needs of ground handlers, airlines, and airports, to see how Ink technology can add value. The attendees will be able to talk to him in person at Ink Innovation’s booth and at the two sessions where he’ll be a speaker. As Javed appreciates the importance of partnerships for success in Africa, he is excited about the opportunity to continue building long-term relationships through collaborative efforts at AviaDev. 

Listen to the AviaDev Insight podcast episode here

Book a meeting with Javed Malik:

About the Author

Monika is the Digital Marketing Manager of Ink Innovation. She experiments with new tactics to continually refine the content marketing strategy. She also designs scroll-stopping content that resonates with readers in the aviation industry.

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