Airspace restrictions a challenge in Middle East region: IATA

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Airspace remains a major issue in Gulf region. According to Tony Tyler, CEO and Director-General of the International Air Transport Association, only 40 per cent of the airspace in the Gulf region is available for civilian operations, remaining is used for military service or other purposes. He also added that IATA is working with the authorities to see what best can be done and make available more space in the Middle East.

IATA last week stated that carriers in the region are likely to earn less profits than the estimated figure. The global aviation industry in general is expected to suffer losses due to eurozone crisis. For 2011, however, IATA said the profitability remains unchanged at $6.9 billion for a net margin of 1.2 per cent.

IATA has outlined three priorities for effective use of airspace: different route options, harmonisation of technology and operations, and flexible use of airspace with the military.

Under the acronym MEAUSE (Middle East Airspace Users and Stakeholder Engagement), IATA is also working to link governments, suppliers, ANSPs (air navigation service providers), military, airlines, and airports for cooperation in air navigation and airport investment plans in accordance to the needs of the airspace user.

MIDDLE EAST OUTLOOK

The IATAs forecast for passenger traffic in the UAE is expected to grow at an average of 8.5 per cent annually until 2015. While the freight demand is expected to grow at a rate of 6.2 per cent.

UAE airlines are expanding rapidly as international travellers use Dubai and Abu Dhabi for changeover on long-haul routes. Carriers such as Etihad and Emirates are spending money to expand their fleets and adding more destinations.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has signed 29 initial agreements and 21 air navigation agreements with other countries in the current year, which is double the number of agreements signed last year.

Dubai announced this year a US$7.8 billion (Dh28.65bn) expansion plan for Dubai International Airport that will increase its passenger traffic to 90 million by 2018. Abu Dhabi is also investing up to Dh27bn in a redevelopment and expansion programme for its international airport.

In the Middle East region, the passenger traffic is expected to grow at an average 7.9 per cent annually until 2015 and the freight demand is expected to remain at 5.7 per cent until 2015.

Sources: Zawya, national.ae

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