Regional aviation sector facing several challenges

Business booming for airports in the region (PATRICK CASTILLO)


Four major challenges need to be addressed by the region's aviation sector, concluded experts at the General Aviation in the Middle East (Game) Summit, which started on Tuesday in Dubai.

Hurdles, according to Jamal Zaal, general manager of general aviation for Dubai Airports, include the lack of a joint centre for air navigation serving countries in the region and regulating the growing number of flights, recruitment of qualified pilots, hosts and technicians, safety and security, and the high price of fuel.

On the plus side, however, business is booming. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation and President of Emirates airline, told the attendees the Executive Flight Service at Dubai International Airport has been achieving double-digit growth for several years now and growth rates of as much as 70 per cent have been reported during some months.

Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Airports, seconded the bright outlook and noted growth in the region's aviation sector now stands at 10 per cent annually.

The rate goes up to 18 per cent in Dubai and is expected to soar to as much as 30 per cent in the next five years. Looking forward, Sheikh Ahmed said next year's Dubai Airshow will benefit from the emirate's new facilities and will be held at the Exhibition Centre at Dubai World.

"The centre will be one of a kind in terms of size and services allowing for the Dubai Airshow to grow further," he said.

"It was with the help of these very facilities and their extensive capacities that Dubai emerged from oblivion a few decades ago – from a mere landing strip and a refuelling point for a few airlines in the 1960s to the world's fastest growing airport in 2007."