The Middle East region is poised to redefine global aviation,
as local carriers and airports undergo massive capacity expansion and foreign
airlines establish in the region, according to the Executive Chairman of the
Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Peter Harbison. Opening the Inaugural Middle
East Aviation Outlook Summit in Abu Dhabi today, Mr Harbison explained this
is the dawning of a new generation in global aviation.
“‘Next-Gen aviation’ is an amalgam of airline, airport and coordinated policy leadership which makes possible the rapid growth of air services and passenger travel through the Middle East at long term rates previously believed to be achievable only over short periods”, he said.
Over USD50 billion is being spent on Middle East airport infrastructure, developing throughput capacity within the next four years for an additional 320 million passengers per year.
A handful of Gulf airlines have order books that strike fear among some of the oldest and strongest names in the business – over USD50 billion in aircraft orders last year alone, most of them for twin-aisle, long-haul equipment. And, as liberalisation sweeps through intra-Middle East aviation, there will be more to come, from established flag carriers too.
Vitally, this region is ideally placed geographically to derive the greatest value from a new generation of extra-long range aircraft, making one-stop travel possible between any two points on earth via this region – and this region alone.
“All of this coalesces at an important fragment in time, just as the archaic regulatory environment is about to be swept away", said Mr Harbison.
Removal of unnecessary constraints on market entry by airlines – imposed over half a century ago and which have since been maintained only to protect usually-inefficient national airlines – is a vital feature of the Next-Gen aviation structure which characterises the Middle East today.
“What we are witnessing is a change of seismic proportions, not merely an evolution that can be tracked by traditional measures. For we will see not only the rapid fire growth of locally based airlines; we will also see major foreign airlines establish in the Middle East, in order to use it as a springboard for their future development. Under the emerging regulatory regimes, this will be possible, where it was not before", said Mr Harbison.
Overall, this combination of developments creates an "irresistible force for change". Mr Harbison concludes, "it is good for the consumer, good for national economies, good for business – and, importantly, has unique environmental advantages, as new aircraft fly through uncongested hubs and offer fuel-saving one-stop service, where previously two-stops or more would have been necessary”.
Abu Dhabi is playing host to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation’s first Middle East Aviation Outlook Summit on 27/28-Feb-08. The Summit brings together over 200 aviation experts from throughout the Middle East and Asia to discuss the huge growth the aviation sector is experiencing in this part of the world.
Sponsored by Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), the conference will discuss the latest trends in aviation and hear from experts on how the region might respond to record growth. The Middle East region grew the fastest of any region in the world last year, 18.6% and that trend is expected to continue into 2008 and beyond.
Chairman of ADAC, HE Khalifa M. Al Mazrouei, stated “this is a first for Abu Dhabi and ADAC is pleased to welcome such a distinguished group of aviation experts to our city. Conferences like this will help build the profile of Abu Dhabi and its growing reputation as a conference venue. As ADAC seeks to grow the aviation industry in the Emirate the CAPA event will help put us on the map.
“The geographic location of Abu Dhabi and the region as a whole, situated between the major economies of East and West has helped drive the huge increase in demand for passenger and cargo capacity. This aligned with the growth of the Gulf economies and the expansion of tourism and leisure is helping make this region the most dynamic in the world.
“At ADAC, we are in the process of re-developing the airport at Abu Dhabi and we will soon boost capacity by a further five million with the opening of the new terminal three facility. The second runway is nearly complete and work has already begun on the new air traffic control tower. Our aim is to create a world class gateway to Abu Dhabi and enable the Emirates home carrier Etihad and other airlines to link us to the world”.