Don't miss out on ME aviation boom, says expert
Abu Dhabi, February 27, 2008
Be ready or miss out on an exceptional growth period in the Middle East Aviation industry, warned a top Abu Dhabi Airport official.
Speaking at the first Middle East Aviation Outlook Summit, which began today (Wednesday) in Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Mohamed Al Mazrouie, chairman, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) told a gathering of more than 250 global aviation professionals that the Middle East was the world’s fastest growing region in terms of passenger traffic, which increased by 18.6 per cent when compared to last year.
“It is this growth figure among a number of other impressive statistics that provides the answer to those who ask why the Middle East carriers and those from India and China are investing so heavily and why those in the US and Europe are not,” he said.
The region’s response in terms of infrastructure sees Dubai building capacity ahead of demand with a 120 million passenger global hub, while Qatar’s new airport will open in 2009 to cater for the rapid growth of Qatar Airways. In Saudi Arabia plans have been unveiled to make King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah second only to Dubai in size with a three phase programme culminating in an 80 million capacity in 2035.
“We are also investing to meet demand, demand that comes from our strategic global location and the growing economies of the Middle East, India, China and Asia Pacific,” added Mazrouie.
He revealed that Abu Dhabi was a particularly strong performer in the region, with passenger traffic having grown by 31 per cent in 2007.
“We do not intend to miss this growth opportunity and it is why we are both reacting as well as planning for the future,” he said. “A new terminal is underway to meet growing demand.
“This Dh1 billion ($272 million) facility will have the capacity to add five million passengers and will open incrementally over the next few months taking the overall capacity at the airport to 12 million.
“We are pursuing a policy to meet anticipated demand so that the new airport when it opens in 2011 will be able to accommodate some 20 million passengers a year,” he added.
Mazrouie also addressed the regional challenges as well as the opportunities, which include commercialism, inflation, a global economic downturn and the provision of high quality facilities that are aligned to each country’s airport’s market requirements.
James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways who gave the key note address, echoed many of Al Mazrouie’s views and highlighted how this was a period of unprecedented growth for Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways.
“Trade and tourism are key drivers in the local growth,” he said.
Symon Rubens, managing director, Terrapinn Middle East, said: 'These are exciting times for the aviation sector in the Middle East and Terrapinn is proud to be playing a key role in facilitating dialogue between international and regional industry leaders about the future and emerging opportunities in the Middle East.'-TradeArabia News Service