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Arab Aviation Summit predicts record growth of GCC airlines

Industry experts predict huge growth for aviation especially in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates

Published: Updated:

The Arab Aviation and Media Summit 2015 opened in Manama amid optimism and prediction of unprecedented growth of airline industry in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Kamal Bin Ahmed Mohammed, Bahraini minister of transportation and telecommunication, in his inaugural address revealed Bahrain’s plan for airport development which will kick off early January next year. He said the new project will meet Bahraini civil aviation requirements for next 20 years.

He traced the history of aviation in Bahrain and said that the Island nation has the honor of operating first commercial flight in 1932. Attended by over 200 industry leaders and media, this year’s conference covers a variety of issues, including the overall impact of aviation and tourism on Arab economies.

Industry leaders are set to discuss the direct and indirect benefits of aviation and tourism sectors on regional economies and how the activities and the consequent benefits can be expected to grow in the future. They will also discuss the growing significance of private sector contribution and the importance of opening up the sector to increased foreign investments.

Hussain Dabbas, regional vice president of IATA, called 2015 a successful year for the aviation industry which has registered an average growth of over 5 percent, taking its revenue to approximately $727 billion with an estimated profit of nearly $29.5 billion. He predicted that Saudi Arabia will register a growth of over 5 percent in its aviation industry in the next five years.

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He echoed the statement of Bahraini transport minister that some very small countries have extremely large airlines while large countries have some very small airlines. Without naming Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, the IATA executive expressed optimism over their business and operational performance in the coming year.

He said the IATA was motivated by safety, sustainability and profitability. In the backdrop of his optimism, Dabbas lamented on the current situation world over and said that nearly 40 percent of the skies were virtually no flying zone as they were either in war zones or other dangerous territories. He emphasized on need of profitability and success of aviation industry in each nation as “it would create more jobs and eventually prosperity.” He said that currently out of every 11 employed person in the globe, one was an employee of either any airline or affiliated with airline industry.

“The aviation sector’s growth in the Arab world has greatly benefited the tourism sector and thereby contributing to the growth of the economy underpinned by consistent growth which continues to drive investment, job creation and bilateral trade,” Adel Ali, Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia Group, said.

“Although the sector will continue to be regarded as a catalyst for future economic growth, the industry is still faced with numerous challenges for growth. The idea behind the AAMS platform is to create meaningful dialogue on how some the unique challenges can be resolved while continuing to unlock exciting opportunities for the decades to come,” he said.

A joint initiative by leading industry organizations such as Air Arabia, Airbus, among others, Arab Aviation and Media Summit is often described as the ‘voice of the industry’ and is the largest assembly of Arab media together with top executives from the aviation and tourism industry. It takes place in a different Arab city every year drawing attention to the host city travel and tourism experience as well as facilitating for a large audience of Governments, decision makers and media to share, learn and exchange.

The 2015 edition of the summit is held in partnership with Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation & Telecommunications and Bahrain Airport Company. This industry initiative is supported and endorsed by many world leading organizations such as Airbus Middle East, Air Arabia Group, CFM, Amadeus, Alpha Aviation, ITP Group among many other supporting partners.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 8, 2015.