Mideast aviation jobs to hit 2 million

Sector is expected to add another 750,000 jobs in the region in 20 years. Air transport's contribution to GDP is likely to touch $50bn. Number of passengers to grow 6% per year. (SUPPLIED)

The Middle East air transport sector is expected to support close to two million jobs in the region over the next 20 years, according to a study by Oxford Economics, a global research firm providing industry forecasts and economic advice.

At present, air transport directly employs and supports jobs for approximately 400,000 people in the Middle East, according to the report, and is expected to add another 750,000 jobs in the next 20 years, making a GDP (gross domestic product) contribution of $50 billion (Dh183.64bn). It will support an additional 1.2 million jobs and $35bn of GDP in the tourism sector, the report pointed out.

The research numbers are supported by the Middle Eastern airlines' staff growth in the region. Emirates said on Tuesday it plans to recruit 2,000 cabin crew in 2010 as it expands its fleet and routes.

The Dubai-based carrier, with a total employee strength of close to 50,000, including around 11,000 cabin crew and 2,000 pilots. The airline has hired around 660 cabin crew and more than 60 pilots since March 2009, it said in a statement.

Etihad Airways, meanwhile, employs 7,844 personnel (6,614 in the airline's Abu Dhabi headquarters and 1,230 in outstation offices) at present, which includes 2,971 cabin crew and 854 pilots in total at present. The airline recruited 1,227 employees last year alone.

Middle Eastern airlines recorded the highest growth rate of 11.2 per cent in air passenger traffic globally last year on the back of long-haul connecting traffic, International Air Transport Association (Iata) recently revealed.

Furthermore, the aviation sector contributes approximately $17bn to the Middle East's GDP, according to the report.

According to the research estimates, the air transport industry directly employed close to 150,000 people in the Middle East last year and contributed "more than $6 billion" to GDP.

"The industry is about 80 per cent more productive than the economy as a whole. This is despite the fact that the oil industry, which dominates many economies in the Middle East, is a very highly productive sector," the analysis pointed out. "In particular, air transport supports regional tourism. The tourism industry is an important source of jobs, skills and incomes throughout the Middle East."

Demand for air transport, meanwhile, is expected to rise particularly fast in the Middle East, according to the report, with an average growth in the number of passengers over the next 20 years of six per cent per year and 4.3 per cent for cargo.

"Every one percentage point lower growth in passenger and freight traffic would reduce the number of jobs supported by air transport in the next 20 years by close to 240,000 and GDP by around $14bn," the report revealed.



By 2026


- The number of passengers is expected to rise by 145 per cent between 2007 and 2026 from below 2.5 billion to six billion

- Air transport will directly employ some 8.5 million people and contribute $1 trillion to world GDP

- Measuring across aviation, its supply chain, and the spending of employees in these businesses, the industry will support 23 million jobs and $2.6 trillion of GDP

- The number of jobs supported by air transport would be cut by 6 million to 44 million and the contribution to GDP by $600bn



- More than 5.5 million workers are employed directly in the industry worldwide, with a turnover of more than $1 trillion

- The investment resulting from improved air transport networks can give workers in developing countries access to higher, more stable incomes

- Aviation enhances efficiencies through economies of scale, increased competition, intensified innovation and access to wider pools of employees


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