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Gulf airspace congestion 'a major issue'

Abu Dhabi, April 8, 2014

Leading aviation experts discussed ways to tackle key air traffic management issues including the problem of Gulf airspace congestion at this year's Global Aerospace Summit held in Abu Dhabi.

NATS, a leading UK-based air traffic management service provider, led one of the main panels that involved cross-stakeholder discussion about the airspace challenges facing the aviation industry internationally, with particular focus on the unique context of the Middle East, said the summit organisers.

The panel also responded to the fact that the success of the aviation industry in the Middle East was creating increased demands on an already extremely complex air traffic environment.

In order to avoid the capacity bottlenecks and operational inefficiencies, airspace constraints must be addressed through the development of cohesive performance-based regional network strategies, said Richard Deakin, the chief executive officer, NATS who was invited as a panelist at the summit.

“Delays are becoming common place and will only increase as operations continue to grow. If we don't work together to improve the efficiency of the regional air traffic network, the sustained success of the major regional air carriers could be at risk,” he added.

The number of aircraft movements through UAE's airspace last year was more than 741,000, according to official figures. It is forecast to reach about 895,500 by 2015, 1.13 million by 2020 and by 2030 it will reach 1.62 million.

Over 20 million passengers are expected to use Abu Dhabi Airport over the next few years. Al Maktoum International Airport is destined to eventually become the world’s largest with an annual passenger capacity of 160 million. Air travel to and from Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and elsewhere in the Gulf, is also forecast to rise rapidly.

John Swift, the Middle East director, NATS said: "Because air traffic management in the region is planned separately by individual states, the airspace has become fragmented. Today in the Gulf, there is a patchwork of boundaries and airspace corridors which impacts on efficiency."

NATS, he stated, has a proven track record of improving efficiency and reducing delays in complex airspace and leading the political discussions which are often more challenging than the technical aspects.

This has been successfully achieved in the UK for example through close cooperation with its neighbours, on a number of key initiatives, including the creation of Europe’s first working Functional Airspace Block (FAB), where air traffic is managed according to operational needs, and not necessarily national boundaries.”

NATS is currently working on projects in Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, and has previously worked with Bahrain and at Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai to support the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of its airspace.

In the UK, NATS guides over two million aircraft through some of the busiest and most complex airspace anywhere in the world. With NATS also working in Asia, the US and Far East, its expertise is in increasing demand from other countries.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Gulf | Congestion | airspace |

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