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Tue 27 Jan 2009 06:08 PM

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Mideast leaders urged to tackle air traffic problems

IATA chief makes call as regional airlines are predicted to make $200m loss in 2009.

International aviation body IATA has called on Middle East governments to tackle air traffic inefficiencies in the region.

The International Air Transport Association said on Tuesday that performance issues are “threatening” the industry’s health and future expansion.

Dr Majdi Sabri, IATA’s regional vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, also urged air navigation service providers and aviation groups to help address the inadequate air traffic control procedures.

During a speech at the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation Middle East ANSP conference, Sabri said: “In the Middle East infrastructure and air traffic control procedures are not keeping up with growth.

“Military restrictions limit airspace expansion and the fragmentation of airspace and sub-optimal routes are costing millions. We need better coordination to find workable solutions and that means involving Governments, airlines, ANSPs and industry groups like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), CANSO and IATA.”

Sabri insisted the region, which is forecast to lose $200 million in 2009 as passenger demand slows, can not afford to continue operating a “wasteful” air traffic control system.

He added governments need to invest in improved aeronautical communications technology to enhance air traffic control.

IATA also urged Middle Eastern airlines to help improve the region’s environmental performance by investing in new technology and operating planes more effectively. The aviation industry contributes two percent of global C02, prompting IATA to introduce a carbon-neutral growth plan for all carriers.

“Airlines in this region are doing their part ordering 1000 new, fuel-efficient aircraft worth over US$178 billion in the past three years,” said Sabri.

“IATA is also playing a role. Since 2004 globally we have delivered $12 billion and 59 million tonnes of CO2 savings by shortening routes, enhancing operational procedures and sharing best practices.

“Since 2006 in this region alone we saved $460 million, $40 million by shortening routes, $46 million with RNAV approaches and $374 million by helping airlines in the region improve fuel efficiency with our Green Teams. We have made progress, but there is much more work to do.”

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