IATA has called upon all parts of the aviation value chain in the Gulf region to work together on issues critical to the region’s ability to serve as a catalyst for economic growth.
Aviation has been at the centre of the economic transformation in the Gulf region over the past 25 years, IATA says, pointing to a study by Oxford Economics that shows aviation in the Middle East supports 2.7 million jobs and US$129 billion in GDP. Aviation’s role is set to grow rapidly as international passenger numbers rise from 77.1 million in 2010 to 220 million in 2030.
“Aviation’s ability to play a leading role in GDP growth is not guaranteed. It depends on having the right conditions in place to support competitive sustainable businesses. Many of these are beyond the direct control of airlines, and most require industry and government to work together with a common vision and purpose,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO in his address to the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Tyler identified a 4 point agenda for the region based on safety, security, infrastructure and the environment:
Safety: 2011 was the safest year in aviation history, with an accident rate of one Western-built jet hull loss for every 2.7 million flights, which is a 39% improvement on 2010. In the Middle East and North Africa, there was one hull loss for every 500,000 flights. “If aviation is to continue to deliver on its immense promise, safety must continue to be addressed as a community, working in partnership with governments and based on global standards, such as the IATA Operational Safety Audit,” said Tyler.
Infrastructure: The MENA region has invested more than $100 billion on airport projects. Tyler highlighted that this investment must be matched by similar commitments to efficient air traffic management (ATM) through harmonization and optimal routings. However Tyler warned that “Technology for technology’s sake and gold-plated solutions will not help us to reduce emissions, save fuel or increase airspace capacity. A better alternative is to work in close cooperation to develop operational procedures using existing and deployed technology that offer a sustainable business case for all,” said Tyler.
Environment: Aviation’s ability to fulfill future global demand for connectivity is contingent upon sustainability. To address aviation’s 2% contribution to man-made global CO2 emissions, airlines, airports, ANSPs and manufacturers have committed to (1) improve aircraft fuel efficiency by 1.5% annually to 2020; (2) cap net CO2 emissions from 2020; and (3) cut net carbon emissions from air transport in half by 2050 compared to 2005.
Tyler recognized that Qatar Airways, Rolls-Royce and others have formed the Qatar Advanced Biofuel Platform consortium to develop the world’s first large scale algae bio-jet value chain. “This is a positive development. To move from large scale use of sustainable biofuels for aviation we need governments around the world to initiate policies that will attract investment and de-risk the scaling-up of production,” said Tyler.
Security: IATA is developing a Checkpoint of the Future that will differentiate screening using passenger information that is already being collected for immigration purposes. This will be combined with technology that allows passengers to walk through checkpoints without stopping, disrobing or unpacking. “We have received support from major stakeholders, such as the European Commission, the Chinese government, the US Department of Homeland Security and Interpol. Sixteen countries have also endorsed a statement of principles for the checkpoint. I hope to see Middle East states signing up to the principles soon,” said Tyler.