UAE needs to 'open' military airspace for commercial use, says expert

60 percent of the UAE airspace is reserved for the military
UAE needs to 'open' military airspace for commercial use, says expert
Saj Ahmad, analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research says restricted airspace is a challenge for growth of country’s airports with DXB expected to hit the 100 million passenger target well ahead of 2020.
By Parag Deulgaonkar
Wed 25 Jan 2017 09:35 AM

The UAE will have to open up more military airspace for civilian aircraft to help ease air traffic congestion and allow airports meet their targets, according to an aviation expert.

On Tuesday, Dubai Airports said that Dubai International Airport (DXB) annual traffic rose 7.2 percent to 83.6 million passengers from 2015, thus remaining the world's busiest for international passengers in 2016. The number is set to increase to 89 million this year.

In its UAE Airspace Policy 2015, the General Civil Aviation Authority states the UAE airspace is considered as a “national asset” with the implementation of flexible use airspace for civil and military operations based on real-time needs.

About 60 percent of UAE airspace is reserved for the military, and the proportion is unlikely to change.

Laila bin Hareb, assistant director general, strategy and international affairs, GCAA told Arabian Business in October 2016 that the UAE will be able to manage its airspace more effectively and ease congestion at airports following the start of its airspace restructuring programme.

Saj Ahmad, analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research says restricted airspace is a challenge for growth of country’s airports with DXB expected to hit the 100 million passenger target well ahead of 2020.

"The challenge however
remains opening up more military airspace for commercial use to help ease
traffic flows into the UAE," he said. 

"With the second phase of extended development at
Dubai World Central to start later this year, expanding that airport becomes
even more of a priority, particularly as Dubai International edges closer to
maximum capacity," he added.

In the Middle East, the UAE has launched an ambitious airport expansion plans, investing billions of the dollars into development of airports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ajman.

US planemaker Boeing projects the need of 3,310 new airplanes worth $770 billion over the next 20 years in the Middle East.

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