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Region set to become global aviation hub

By Staff Writer



The Middle East is set to become the global centre of the aviation industry, said Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan. And he believes his company and Abu Dhabi will be at the forefront of the industry’s growth in the region.


Hogan will outline his views today at the Middle East Aviation Outlook Summit in Abu Dhabi. In a keynote address he will define the opportunities available to the aviation industry in the region.


The Middle East and North Africa was the fastest growing region for air passenger and cargo traffic in 2006 – and this growth is set to continue at seven per cent each year until 2011.

This is the highest percentage in any region in the world and compares to a global average of just more than five per cent.


Hogan said trade and tourism are the two key drivers in the region – but there are now many other factors, including growth of the aviation industry, which provides a multi-layered formula for success.

He said progressive deregulation and liberalisation are opening up further opportunities for traffic growth and regional civil aviation authorities are extremely active in this area.


The Middle East is an ideal location for the aviation industry as it is located between east and west, said Hogan and added there were few places better placed to launch a new global airline.


Hogan will discuss the considerable investment being made by the aviation industry in the region, both in terms of aircraft and airport infrastructure.


Middle East airlines announced orders worth $50 billion (Dh184bn) at the 2007 Paris Airshow. This was followed some months later by further regional orders for 140 aircraft at the Dubai Airshow in deals worth more than $100bn.


Ten airports in the region are investing $37bn in new airport capacity, which will cater to an additional 318 million passengers per year by 2012. Middle East gross domestic product is growing year-on-year between five and six per cent and this is leading to the emergence of an economic powerhouse akin to India and China.


Another area Hogan will discuss is the diversification of the UAE’s economy. Diversification from oil and gas into tourism, real estate, financial services and logistics powered the aviation sector’s double-digit capacity and traffic growth in the last four years.




The capital will today play host to the first aviation outlook summit to be held in the region. The conference will bring together aviation experts from throughout the Middle East and Asia to discuss the huge growth the sector is experiencing in this part of the world.


Delegates will discuss the latest trends in aviation and hear from experts on how the region might respond to record growth.
The industry grew by 18.6 per cent in the Middle East last year – faster than in any other region in the world. And that trend is expected to continue into 2008 and beyond.


Investment in airport infrastructure projects in the region adds up to more than $50 billion (Dh184bn) while carriers such as Etihad, Qatar and Emirates are leading the world in orders for about 1,000 new aircraft.


Abu Dhabi International Airport, the capital’s gateway, is already one of the fastest growing airports in the region. The airport grew from an opening capacity of 3.5 million passengers in 1982 to seven million in 2005 and is poised for another boost to 12 million passengers when the third terminal becomes fully operational later this year.


The two-day Middle East Aviation Outlook Summit is being staged by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation at the Beach Rotana Hotel and Towers. It is being sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Airports Company, which is hosting a gala dinner.


“This is a first for Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Airports Company is pleased to welcome such a distinguished group of aviation industry experts to our city,” said Chairman Khalifa M Al Mazrouei.


“Events such as this will help build the profile of Abu Dhabi and its growing reputation as a conference venue. As Abu Dhabi Airports Company seeks to bolster the aviation sector in the emirate the Capa event will help put us on the map.


“The geographic location of Abu Dhabi, between the major economies of east and west, has helped drive growth. At Abu Dhabi Airports Company we are in the process of redeveloping 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 begun on the new air traffic control tower. Our aim is to create a world-class gateway and enable the emirate’s home carrier Etihad and other airlines to link us to the world.” (Wam)