United Arab Emirates’ aviation policies have won praise from an unexpected quarter. In the past, major European, Australian and US-based airlines have been bickering about Middle Eastern air carriers, especially Dubai’s Emirates Airline, getting ‘unrelented’ government support and subsidies.
Willie Walsh, head of BA parent company International Airlines Group particularly singled out United Arab Emirates for its “progressive” stance towards the aviation industry.
Walsh, known for his outspoken character made a scathing attack on David Cameron’s coalition government at the Global Airlines Summit in Beijing, saying they were “completely out of touch”.
He went on further to say that the UK government is not utilising the opportunities that exist for aviation industry and accused the ministers of “doing everything they can to suppress and damage” the aviation industry.
Walsh cited the example of UK government’s approach to issuing visas to Chinese tourists. UK mandates that they acquire a separate visa in addition to the one required to visit other EU countries. Tourists from China are considered to be potentially one of tourism’s biggest growth markets and there are fears that Britain’s strict rules are hampering growth.
UAE and Aviation – like bread and butter
Though Qatar is fast catching up in the aviation industry, UAE is far ahead of its competition in the Middle East.
The success of UAE’s aviation industry can be attributed to the various stakeholders involved including strong government support, experienced management team and diverse workforce.
While it is true that there are no labor unions in the UAE to engage in industrial action, as is the case with other countries, people are generally happy to work in airlines companies such as Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways. In fact, a recent survey found that most of the people living in Dubai are a happy bunch.
According to Oxford Economics 2011 report, the aviation sector directly employs 58,000 people and contributes $6.2 billion to Dubai’s GDP. In addition to that, the aviation sector indirectly supports 43,000 jobs and contributes $3.5 billion to Dubai’s GDP, through its purchases of goods and services from local businesses.
The report added that the aviation sector supports a further 23,900 jobs and contributes $2 billion to Dubai’s GDP, through the spending of those directly and indirectly employed in the aviation sector. Altogether, the aviation sector’s economic footprint today supports over 125,000 jobs and contributes $11.7 billion to Dubai’s GDP.
The success of UAE’s aviation sector is not only good for country or the region’s economy, it is hugely benefiting the global economy as well by promoting global tourism. UAE’s flag carriers like Emirates and Etihad have created connections between cities and countries, representing an important infrastructure asset that benefits passengers, and businesses from many countries. It is also promoting strong competition, and ensuring that passengers receive efficient and high quality air services.