UAE first globally for air trade facilitation, tops ME for visa openness

Photo: WAM

UAE is ranked first globally for air trade facilitation and tops the Middle East region for visa openness, according to the International Air Transport Association.

This came as IATA presented its latest study on the importance of air transport to the United Arab Emirates showing that ongoing prioritisation of aviation as a key strategic asset could generate an additional 620,000 jobs and an extra US$80 billion in GDP for the nation's economy by 2037.

"Air transport's contribution to the UAE economy is already significant. The industry at present supports nearly 800,000 jobs and contributes USD47.4 billion to the economy, accounting for 13.3% of the UAE's GDP. If the government continues to pursue a positive agenda for aviation, the UAE's aviation market will grow 170% by 2037, support 1.4 million jobs and contribute USD128 billion in GDP to the nation's economy," said the study.

IATA identified three areas where government action can promote aviation's growth and bring even more value to the UAE: - Increase airspace capacity to ease congestion and meet future demand: Airspace capacity in the region has not kept pace with the growth in demand, which is leading to significant delays particularly in the GCC. Governments in the region must replace political fragmentation with collaborative cross-border decision-making to ensure that the global competitiveness of the region's hubs is not affected.

- Align infrastructure investments with expected growth: The UAE is well-known for the foresight of its government in developing airport infrastructure that is affordable. Future infrastructure investments must provide enough capacity to meet market demand and ensure airline technical and service level needs are aligned and remain affordable.

- Continue to leverage new technology and process innovation to enhance efficiency and passenger experience: The UAE is a pioneer in using innovation to improve the passenger experience. Fast adoption of new technology and initiatives to integrate aviation with future modes of transportation will enhance the competitiveness of the UAE as an aviation hub.

"Over the past 25 years, the UAE has experienced an economic transformation; aviation has been at the heart of this evolution. Few states have a better understanding of the economic benefits that aviation's connectivity provides than the UAE. Government policy supporting the development of aviation has paid great dividends. Today the UAE is ranked number one globally for air trade facilitation, tops the Middle East region for visa openness, is an aviation powerhouse and its airlines carry the country's flag to all corners of the globe," said Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA's Regional Vice President for the Middle East.

"To maintain the country's competitiveness as a leading global aviation hub, sufficient air space capacity to meet demand, infrastructure investments aligned to growth and rapid implementation of new technology are essential," said Albakri.

Robin Kamark, Chief Commercial Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: "As the national airline of the UAE, Etihad Airways is evolving and continuously looking for ways to provide our guests with more choice and a superior travel experience. We achieve this by having a robust innovation agenda that challenges the industry status quo, and leverages opportunities that come from new and improved technologies.

"We are proud of the significant role we play in continuing the evolution of the Middle East region as a tourism and travel hub, as well as our contribution to the UAE's vision to become a leader in the global aerospace industry."

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