Aviation experts for 'open skies' policy
Muscat, June 30, 2013
Leading aviation experts, who gathered in Salalah, Oman for the third edition of 'Arab Aviation and Media Summit,' have called upon regional governments to adopt an 'open skies' policy.
During the two-day event, leading speakers from across the region as well as from global markets shed light on the rapid growth of the aviation and tourism sectors in the region, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Themed 'Aviation and Tourism: Enabler of Economic Growth,' the Arab Aviation and Media Summit 2013 was organised by Air Arabia under the patronage of Oman's Ministry of Tourism, in association with CNBC Arabiya, Airbus and CFM.
This year's event was attended by more than 100 editors and media representatives and approximately 100 delegates from the aviation and tourism industry.
The aviation experts placed a greater emphasis on the need for skilled and trained manpower, which is seen as a crucial challenge to the industry.
Inefficient infrastructure and poorly-conceived regulations are adding to the woes of the Middle East aviation and tourism sectors, they warned.
Speaking at the summit, Air Arabia chief executive Adel Ali said: "The starting point is the implementation of a full open skies policy, the introduction of more liberalised regulations allowing the free-flow of cross-border movements and the proliferation of privately owned airlines.
"Together, this approach would help the Middle East aviation and tourism sector to reach its full potential, which is estimated to be equal to the size of the US economy," observed Ali.
"Nobody doubts the tremendous potential of the aviation and tourism sectors in the Arab world, but there are a number of significant challenges that still need to be addressed if it is to be fully realised," he stated.
According to airline industry trade group International Air Transport Association (IATA) Gulf area manager Micheal Herrero, the enormous social benefits to the region of a thriving aviation industry means there is a real urgency to overcome obstacles such as a lack of skilled aviation professionals.
"In addition to investing in technology and aircraft, we should also invest in the workforce," he noted.
"We face an unusual situation where the growth of aviation is creating jobs which we will soon not be able to fill because we do not have enough people with the right skills. More engineering-focused education programmes are a must and we need to encourage more young people across the region to think about a career in this sector," said Herrero.
"Dedicated aviation academies are an important part of the solution and will help to ensure people receive the training they need to strengthen their skill-set and add to the talent pool," he added.
Airbus director strategic marketing and analysis market forecast Andrew Gordon, who delivered a special presentation on "The future of Aviation," said: "The aviation sector is a major driver of global economy. In fact, if aviation were a country, it would be a member of the G20, with the 19th largest economy in the world."
"By 2031, Airbus expects passenger traffic and airplane numbers to double globally," stated Gordon.
"The Middle East aviation market will witness significant expansion over the next 20 years with passenger traffic forecast to grow 6.2 per cent annually," he added.
Airlines from the region are expected to receive delivery of 1,963 new passenger and cargo aircraft.
"As a hub for both leisure and business travel, the Middle East is in a particularly advantageous position to benefit from this growth," Gordon added.-TradeArabia News Service