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Middle East region ‘emblematic’ of the heights of aviation success

posted on Mar 7, 2015

Angela Gittens: Aviation drives social and economic progress

Khalifa Al Zaffin: GCC enjoys a natural affinity to aviation

GALF useful to discuss industry’s complex issues

Aviation to contribute $53 billion to UAE economy by 2020

Aviation contributed $116 billion to Middle East GDP

Tackling airspace key to sustained growth

GALF to pave the way to industry partnerships


Dubai, March 7, 2015: One of the foremost contributors to the global passenger and cargo air traffic, the Middle East region is “emblematic of the heights” to which aviation can rise when governments fully support the industry and understand its potential as a powerful driver of social and economic progress, remarked the chief of global airports operators body.

Angela Gittens, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI) which has 591 members operating more than 1861 airports in 177 countries, said the annual passenger traffic growth globally was expected to average 4.1 per cent annually to 2031 to reach 12 billion.


“Preliminary statistics for 2014 indicate total worldwide passenger traffic of 6.6 billion, so we’re talking about nearly doubling worldwide traffic over the next decade and a half. The airports handled 100 million metric tonnes of cargo and 83 million aircraft movements,” said Angela who will be sharing her vision about the industry and its future at the Global Airport Leaders’ Forum (GALF) in Dubai from May 11 and 12.

The third edition of GALF will be collocated with the 15th edition of Airport Show at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC).

Both the events will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.

She said the Air Transport Action Group’s (ATAG) latest figures indicate that airports support over five million jobs worldwide, making them vital elements of their local economies. When we consider aviation in general, this number balloons to 58.1 million jobs worldwide. Aviation is a strong enabler of the global economy, representing 3.4 per cent of global GDP, she added. 

The industry veteran said the progress that Dubai has made over the years to become the world-class centre of aviation was “truly remarkable” and “exemplary”.

Angela said: “Airports are no longer simply points of departure and arrival; they are highly complex businesses in their own right which require the coordination of a vast number of stakeholders if safety, security and efficiency are to be maximized. If one piece of the puzzle is out of sync there are often far-reaching consequences.”

As the industry is complex and cooperation has been and will continue to be the key to navigating the many challenges it faces, the Airport Show and the GALF are useful forums for discussing these issues, she stated. 

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed said: “The importance of airports as global travel hubs has been growing. In Dubai, the massive airport expansions are needed to accommodate the growth in air traffic and airport development continues to play a strategic role in our future growth agenda. The huge and consistent aviation investments will have a positive impact not just for Dubai alone but for the UAE, Gulf region and the world.”

Khalifa Al Zaffin, Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation which is developing the Dubai World Central (DWC), said the Middle East – particularly the GCC – enjoys a natural affinity to the aviation industry. The region owns some of the world’s fastest growing airlines and most active airports. The fact that Middle East aviation supported – directly and indirectly – nearly two million jobs and contributed $116 billion in terms of GDP in 2012, is a fair indicator of the industry’s forward march in our region.”

Khalifa, who will be a speaker at the GALF-2015, said: “The UAE has always been very passionate about its airlines and airports. Aviation is poised to contribute $53 billion to the UAE economy and will generate up to 750,000 jobs by 2020. Mega projects like the Al Maktoum International, which will be the world’s largest airport when complete, and the Aviation District, the region’s only aviation and aerospace hub, underline the long-term commitment the UAE has towards the industry.”

Stating that success in tackling airspace and regulatory issues are the key to sustained growth, he said the Airport Show and GALF are apex platforms that facilitate meaningful debates by bringing together key stakeholders, thus paving the way to partnerships, opportunities and issue resolution.

According to IATA, $40 billion airport investments are in the GCC states alone, with the UAE taking the top slot. The UAE airports handled over 101 million passengers last year, with Dubai taking the major share of about 71 million passengers followed by Abu Dhabi with 20 million passengers. The UAE airspace had an average of 2250 daily aircraft movements in 2014, which by 2030 will reach 5100, making the UAE one of the busiest airspaces in the world.


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