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Fri 21 Jan 2011 12:00 AM

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Why the Middle East aviation sector is starting afresh in 2011

Investments in aviation, infrastructure and logistics projects will encourage growth.

Why the Middle East aviation sector is starting afresh in 2011
Why the Middle East aviation sector is starting afresh in 2011

As the new year starts, it’s only natural to look back on
the previous year and ponder what lies ahead. The global recession has affected
us all to some extent, but on the whole the aviation business here in the UAE
is looking robust. It is on this positive note that I start 2011.

We have many reasons to be cheerful – we’re in a great
position, quite literally, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with one third of the world’s population
located within four hours by plane. That much is undeniable.

But most importantly, our political leadership has created
an environment that is ripe for a healthy future, so we really can look forward
to 2011 with confidence. The Middle East’s
aviation industry is in the enviable position of being able to direct its
future and this is exactly what it happening. There is still so much more room
to expand, and we have all the support, investment and vision to realise it.
These are very exciting times; decisions made now will secure stability and
growth for our aviation business for decades to come.

Huge investments in aviation, infrastructure and logistics
projects will ensure that we continue to grow as a key hub. Cumulative
investment in the country’s aviation sector is expected to reach a formidable
Dh500 billion between 2000 and 2020. Once completed, the UAE’s seven airports
will collectively serve more than 300 million passengers per annum. In
addition, government and private sectors are investing heavily in developing
aviation professionals, technicians and technical capabilities.

Airbus and Boeing have already agreed to manufacture
aircraft spare parts and components, and eventually become partners in future
aircraft development programmes. We should also be delighted because we have
great airlines, the best GCAA audit with nil findings and we are expanding
existing air and shipping terminals and free zones.

I also believe that the economic downturn actually brought
some changes for the better - there was a need to tighten up procedures, cut
costs, and solid businesses prevailed and weaker and often substandard
operators didn’t. We learnt a lot of lessons, adapted ourselves, strategised
our business models, came up with new business to meet new challenges, and
primed our staff to meet tougher challenges and new market conditions.

So in short, despite the global recession I firmly believe
that at the start of 2011 we are undoubtedly on track. We have much to be
cheerful about. As a result, I feel I can confidently, and with much optimism
and pleasure, wish you all “A Happy New Year”.

Fathi Buhazza, is the president and CEO of Maximus Air Cargo and
founder of Care by Air.

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