The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for regional co-operation and global standards to support the continued success of aviation in the Gulf region at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi, which concludes tomorrow (Tuesday, April 8).
“A strong vision for aviation’s future, which is supported by co-operation and global standards, has laid the foundation for a very successful air transport sector. That foundation becomes stronger the more we work together as partners. I am absolutely confident that the Gulf region will play an even more crucial role in commercial aviation’s second century,” says Tony Tyler, the IATA’s director-general and CEO.
The fast-growing Gulf region is at the centre of the success of Middle East aviation. Regional airlines are expected to contribute a record $2.2 billion to the airline industry’s expected global profit of $18.7bn in 2014. Driven by the high-speed growth of airlines, the region’s share of global traffic increased from four per cent to nine per cent in just one decade.
Aviation has become a key contributor to local economies. More than 430,000 jobs in the UAE and 14.7 per cent of GDP are linked to aviation and aviation-related tourism.
“Each country [in the Gulf region] has invested in impressive technology. However, effective management needs regional and international teamwork. Regional players urgently need to buy into a vision for seamless airspace management and then work together to make it happen. Airspace congestion is a real and rising problem, which grows with each new aircraft that is delivered. Unless it is dealt with expeditiously, efficient hub operations, which are supporting the region’s success, will begin to unravel,” adds Tyler.
The IATA has, therefore, identified opportunities for progress in two areas, one of which is the flexible use of military airspace. Between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of airspace in the Gulf region is reserved for military use. The second opportunity is the seamless use of airspace. Historically, the Arabian Peninsula was operated as one flight information region (FIR) from Bahrain. “From the early 1980s, it began to be fragmented and, today, there are six FIRs. For an airline, the important thing is to get from point A to point B as smoothly as possible. The challenge for the air navigation service providers is to work together to make that happen as seamlessly across six FIRs as if there were one,” says Tyler.
The IATA has also urged the region to continue to base its growth on global standards. “Global standards provide a common language for industry partners to work together. I would attribute a large part of the success of aviation in the Gulf region to the importance that stakeholders – namely, governments and industry – have placed on them. Stay the course and resist the urge to fragment global standards with local variations,” concludes Tyler.