His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and the chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group, inaugurated the 7th Arab Aviation Summit on Wednesday at the Roda Al Bustan hotel in Dubai.
Themed ‘Time to Transform: Addressing sustainability challenges and opportunities for the regional aviation sector’, the summit was attended by more than 200 industry participants from 15 Arab countries.
Speaking at the event, Abdul Wahab Teffaha, secretary general of Arab Air Carriers Organization, said, “Aviation industry contributes directly to economic growth, creates jobs and business opportunities in almost all sectors, and that is what makes it exciting. But this will not happen by protectionism or by blocking key players from global and regional markets.
As we face many present day challenges including air traffic management, sky liberalisation, rising taxes and charges, secondary airports among others, we need to work together to bring more social and economic benefits to the Arab world.”
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Teffaha said Arab airlines are likely to record a seven per cent growth in number of passengers this year compared to last year. “Despite ongoing crises in the region, the regional airlines are managing to grow and expanding their presence in the global markets. Global expansion creates a cushion for airlines in terms of avoiding negative impact due to regional challenges,” he said.
Teffaha said Arab airlines last year recorded 160mn passengers and numbers will further grow this year.
He said Oman is a very attractive place for aviation and tourism sectors, adding, “The development of new Muscat airport is massive and going ahead as per the schedule. I believe Oman has a great potential.”
Teffaha further said that the GCC region’s low cost airlines are doing an excellent job as their market share is rapidly rising. “With the growth of overall aviation market, the share of low cost airlines has grown tremendously.
In 2006, the low cost airlines’ share of total passengers in the Arab region was just four per cent, but in 2016 their share rose to 22 per cent. This is a massive improvement in low cost airlines’ market share.”
According to IATA, the Middle East’s aviation market is forecast to grow five per cent annually until 2036. Predictions demonstrate that the sector will witness extra 322mn passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region and the total market size will expand to 517mn passengers over this period.