Aviation Business


IATA re­port ex­am­ines the long-term im­pact that de­layed flights have on sec­tor

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Con­cerns have been voiced over air traf­fic de­lays in the Gulf, where the av­er­age de­lay per flight in the re­gion is 29 min­utes. The In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA) said that with­out ur­gent progress, that could dou­ble by 2025 cost­ing over $7bn in lost pro­duc­tiv­ity and ad­ding over $9bn to air­line op­er­at­ing costs.

“There is an enor­mous amount of traf­fic in a lim­ited geo­graphic area. And the only so­lu­tion is to man­age the area as a whole,” shared Alexan­dre de Ju­niac, IATA’s di­rec­tor gen­eral and CEO.

“Gov­ern­ments must re­place po­lit­i­cal frag­men­ta­tion with col­lab­o­ra­tive cross­bor­der de­ci­sion-mak­ing. This has to hap­pen fast or the ef­fec­tive­ness of the re­gion’s hubs will be se­verely com­pro­mised.”

IATA’s chief urged gov­ern­ments in MENA to max­imise the eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits of avi­a­tion, which cur­rently sup­ports 2.4 mil­lion jobs and $130bn in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity across the re­gion.

That rep­re­sents 3.3% of all em­ploy­ment and 4.4% of all GDP in the re­gion.

“Over the next 20 years, we ex­pect pas­sen­ger num­bers to grow by 4.3% an­nu­ally. As avi­a­tion’s lead­ers we must work to­gether and with gov­ern­ments to re­al­ize this po­ten­tial and the eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment that it will catal­yse,” said Ju­niac.

Ju­niac high­lighted im­prov­ing avi­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture and en­hanc­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness while work­ing to­ward reg­u­la­tory har­mo­niza­tion across the re­gion as es­sen­tial. While the Mid­dle East has shown fore­sight in de­vel­op­ing world-lead­ing air­port in­fra­struc­ture, de Ju­niac sounded a note of cau­tion on air­port pri­va­ti­za­tion plans in the re­gion.

“As Saudi Ara­bia and oth­ers across the re­gion con­sider air­port pri­va­ti­za­tion our mes­sage is clear and sim­ple: talk to all stake­hold­ers — es­pe­cially the air­lines — to en­sure that you gain the best long-term eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits.

“There is no need for gov­ern­ments in the re­gion to re­peat the mis­takes that have been made in other parts of the world. Con­sul­ta­tion is not just key, it is a must,” he said.

IATA also said ris­ing costs in the MENA re­gion must be brought un­der con­trol to pre­serve its com­pet­i­tive­ness.

“Since 2016 we have seen $1.6bn added to in­dustr y costs in the MENA re­gion. Ever y dol­lar in ex­tra charges is a chal­lenge for the re­gion’s air­lines that make only $5.89 per pas­sen­ger. More­over, it is a dis­in­cen­tive for pas­sen­gers which im­pacts broadly across the econ­omy,” said Ju­niac.

He added that sup­port­ing the pro­jected growth of avi­a­tion will re­quire an ex­panded labour force and de Ju­niac called upon gov­ern­ments to tap into the power of women to help al­le­vi­ate a grow­ing skills short­age in the re­gion.

“In the peak, north­ern sum­mer sea­son Emi­rates had to trim fre­quen­cies be­cause it did not have enough pi­lots. Find­ing a so­lu­tion for that will re­quire a com­pre­hen­sive se­ries of ac­tions over a sus­tained pe­riod. And one of them — which goes be­yond the pi­lot short­age — is to en­able more women to find ca­reers in avi­a­tion,” he said.

29 min­utes

The av­er­age de­lay per flight in the Mid­dle East

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