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02 March 2024

Aviation industry flies high powered by best talent

By Habib Fekih

When Booker T Washington said: "There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up." He was speaking about people in society, but I believe the same to be true of any active member of the community whether it is an individual or a large company.

Today, the aviation industry is an essential part of the global economy physically connecting the world quickly and efficiently by moving people to where they want to go and facilitating worldwide trade through access to all markets. The strength of the aviation industry can be seen in both its direct and indirect contribution to the world economy.

Recently, Oxford Economics published an extensive report entitled Aviation: The real world wide web. The report revealed that while 5.5 million people are directly employed in the aviation industry, if you expand aviations role to its supply chain and its contribution to the global tourism industry then the industry accounts for more than 33 million jobs and $1.5 trillion (Dh5.50trn) of gross domestic product (GDP). If the industry was, in fact, a country it would be ranked eighth largest in terms of GDP.

To help you more clearly, imagine the impact the aviation industry has, the report indicates that by 2026, we will see the number of passengers rise to six billion from 2.5 billion in 2007, which is 145 per cent growth in passenger traffic. In turn, this expanded passenger traffic will result in a total of 50 million jobs and $3.6trn of GDP in the industry, including tourism. If this estimate is off by one per cent, the resulting scenario would be six million less jobs and $600bn less of a contribution to GDP.

For our region, the Middle East, the air transport sector employs 400,000 individuals and adds $17bn to GDP; if you add in tourism jobs that are supported by the sector, the total becomes one million individuals and $29bn contribution to GDP. The sector is 80 per cent more productive than the as a whole despite that the oil industry is by and large a highly productive area. By 2026, the Middle East air transport sector should see employment rise from 400,000 to 750,000 people with the contribution to GDP jumping to $50bn.

We can see the strength and reach of the aviation industry in how it pulls up the industries and economies it works with and supports. But what is the underlying truth behind these numbers? What the numbers don't show is the ceaseless contribution of the people behind these stunning figures.

On the face of it, the aviation industry may seem like it is only about aircraft, airlines, cargo and routes but at the heart of it, it is a people industry. Airbus employs 52,000 committed and dedicated individuals worldwide of the highest calibre to cater to the needs of its customers in every aspect from administration, design, engineering, testing and sales. It is the individual strength of Airbus's employees that lifts the plane maker through difficult times such as the current recession to achieve such milestones as a record setting 498 deliveries in 2009 or our 6000th aircraft delivery in January 2010.

No one put it better than Sam Walton when he said: "The reason we are successful is because we spot, we recruit, and we retain the best people." So while the aviation industry's strength is reflected in how it lifts its peripheral sectors and the economies it works within, the strength of the aviation industry comes from the quality of the individuals working together to lift this industry through difficult times and achieve greatness despite the trying economic circumstances.

It is a privilege to work among the best in the industry; it is a privilege to be a part of an industry that plays such an important role in everyone's lives and it is with the utmost sincerity that I say to everyone in our industry, keep up the good work.


- The writer is President, Airbus Middle East


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