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Mon 2 Nov 2015 02:07 PM

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Gulf must overcome airspace crisis to sustain aviation growth

IATA chief says airspace congestion is key challenge as region is forecast to see passenger demand grow by 4.6% per year to 2034

Gulf must overcome airspace crisis to sustain aviation growth
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Overcoming challenges with airspace congestion are at the heart of further growth in the aviation industry in the Gulf, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The aviation body highlighted the importance of overcoming airspace congestion, taking advantage of innovations and aligning with the global industry strategy for reducing aviation’s climate change impact.

"The priorities are cooperation and competition. All the stakeholders must work together to ease the airspace congestion and reduce flight delays in the Gulf. We must stay aligned on the global strategy to reduce our climate change impact. And the region’s players need to prepare to take full advantage of a new era in airline distribution that will unleash innovation," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.

Tyler set out the challenges in his opening remarks at the IATA Middle East Aviation Day in Abu Dhabi. The gathering of top aviation leaders in the region also heard from Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport, and Etihad Airways president and CEO James Hogan

According to IATA’s latest passenger forecast, the Middle East will continue to be one of the fastest growing regions in terms of passenger traffic, expanding 4.6 percent per year on average to 2034.

"The Middle East region’s success is a testament to the tremendous investment in people, infrastructure and aircraft that has transformed air connectivity, particularly in the Gulf," said Tyler.

"But the growth brings challenges that must be met. Chief among them at the present time is cooperation to bring greater efficiency to air traffic management (ATM). The challenge is to look beyond merely national issues and focus on an even bigger picture – the strategic development of aviation across the entire Middle East," he added.

The growth in air transport movements is causing significant airspace congestion and that urgent measures are needed to be taken to improve matters.

A strategic group, the Middle East ATM Enhancement Program (MAEP), exists to coordinate policy, operational and technological change, and states must commit to helping it succeed, said Tyler.

"The challenge is to increase the overall efficiency of the ATM system of the region through improved airspace design and organisation."

Tyler added that with passenger numbers set to double over the next 20 years, the industry is facing greater pressure to implement environmental solutions. 

The aviation industry is committed to achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and cutting emissions 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2005.

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