The 200-plus staff of the Operations Department maintain a constant watching brief on all comings and goings at Kuwait International Airport, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. It is as much about people as it is about aircraft.

The Department ensures KIA creates an excellent first and last impression on all passengers – as well as the airport's numerous non-traveling visitors. This means making sure contractors adhere to their contractual requirements, entailing cleanliness, efficiency and customer-friendly services in every aspect of KIA operations.

The Department's social responsibility extends to the handling of educational visits by local schools – around 10,000 students visited the gateway in 2004 – operating the Lost & Found section and the provision of services and facilities for disabled travelers. Such work ensures the Department plays its part in bringing the airport to the people – it is not just about people coming to the airport! But even though the Department enjoys a large social role, it also oversees KIA operations and is prepared for any emergency situation.

Expansion of the airport terminal in 2003, when the Commercial Centre was incorporated, enabled the Operations Department to upgrade KIA’s surveillance systems to the latest technology. The CCTV has been replaced by a fully digital system, the colour cameras covering both the public and restricted areas inside and outside the terminal. Images are fed back to the control room where operators keep watch round the clock and are also continuously recorded to disk, offering high-clarity video for later review.

Security within the terminal is the joint responsibility of the DGCA and Ministry of Interior, with access to the restricted areas limited to a small number of secure gates, all controlled by trained personnel. Some access gates also feature card readers and the system is likely to be extended to cover all gates in the future. The human factor is also much in play and continual inspections are made to detect potential hazards such as unaccompanied baggage or suspicious parcels. Airside, ramp safety inspectors patrol the apron, monitoring any transgressions of airport policy.

The workload of the Operations Department looks set to increase considerably as the DGCA embarks on the next exciting phase of its far-reaching Master Plan. The considerably increased ground footprint will bring additional challenges, both landside and airside. The arrival of the huge category F aircraft, the Airbus A380, will only add to the challenges.

The greater throughput of passengers arriving or departing on a single flight of the twin-deck super jumbo will require the development of specialized lounge facilities and revised airbridge configurations at a number of the terminal contact gates. Airside, expansion will be extensive – including lengthened runways, additional cargo and passenger aprons, a new cross field taxiway and a General Aviation terminal. Possibilities for the future include the provision of a new ground control tower and surface movement radar (SMR) which, combined with air traffic management, would monitor both aircraft and vehicles across the airfield.

KIA is also looking into the possibility of introducing a high-tech tracking system that would instantly alert patrols if an untagged vehicle enters a restricted area or even if a tagged vehicle strayed out of its authorised zone.