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Sat 12 Mar 2016 12:59 AM

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Squeeze on UAE's airspace intensifies in February

Air traffic movements exceed 72,500, up nearly 5%, as concerns mounts about congestion in MidEast skies

Squeeze on UAE's airspace intensifies in February
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Total air traffic movements in UAE airspace reached 72,510 last month, a rise of nearly 5 percent year-on-year, as the squeeze on airspace continued.

According to the Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre's latest report, air traffic movements in the UAE witnessed an increase of 4.8 percent in February compared to the same period last year.

The February report indicated that Dubai ranked first with 32,893 air traffic movement. Over flights stood second at 12,777 air traffic movements while Abu Dhabi ranked third with 12,304 air traffic movements.

According to the report, air traffic movements in Sharjah International Airport totalled 6,180 movements.

Local flights between UAE airports totalled 5,948 movements. Fujairah International Airport witnessed 60 movements, Ras al-Khaimah International Airport had 484 air traffic movements and Al Ain Airport had 178 air traffic movements. Al Maktoum International Airport witnessed 2,149 movements.

The figures comes just weeks after Gulf aviation authorities were urged to engage in much more coordination to ensure that growth is not scuppered by airspace congestion.

Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said last month that Gulf hubs face a challenge to continue their rapid growth.

He cautioned that "it will be a challenge to keep up infrastructure development in line with growing demand and to ensure that that skies can still operate efficiently as the industry grows".

He added: "The Gulf hubs already face a similar challenge where much more coordination in airspace management is needed."

Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Jeddah all have fast-growing airlines that feed increasing traffic into airspace already suffering congestion and delays.

Adding to the crunch is the wide use of airspace on the Arabian side of the Gulf by the military for air strikes over Iraq, Syria and Yemen - leaving narrow corridors for commercial traffic.

Latest forecasts suggest Middle East airlines will grow strongly and will see an extra 237 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region by 2034.

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