As the phenomenal growth in the Middle East air transport sector gathers momentum, attention is turning to how to manage the increased numbers of airliners now on order when they enter the skies above the Persian Gulf. This is especially true in the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region–home to Emirates Airline, Etihad and Qatar Airways–where governments have risen to the challenge of air traffic management, and now thoughts are turning to how to mount a regional effort to maximize air traffic efficiency.
Persian Gulf states
NetJets Europe announced today that it is extending its ferry waiver zone, in which fees on positioning flights are not charged, for flights between 21 “business critical” airports in the Middle East and Europe. The extension will add Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait to the waiver, which previously included Lebanon and Tel Aviv. The company said it has witnessed “strong growth” in flights to the Middle East in the last few years, with 9.2 percent growth reported last year alone.
European manufacturers of major defense equipment face a struggle to secure new contracts in the Middle East against American competition, as evidenced by the latest Saudi arms deal. The huge F-15 deal probably ends Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) interest in a second batch of Eurofighters.
The prospect of involuntarily bankruptcy is all too real for many airlines around the world. But the government of Iraq is poised to voluntarily take Iraqi Airways out of business as a way to avoid a 20-year-old legal dispute with Kuwait Airways.
Al Bateen Executive, the Gulf region’s first dedicated private aviation airport, reported a 30-percent increase in aircraft movements in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year. The airport is located minutes from the city center of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Alongside ostentatious neighbors like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain has tended to get overlooked as a Middle Eastern hub for air transportation. Yet, the island kingdom in the Arabian Gulf actually lays a fair claim to being the birthplace of aviation in the Middle East. Next month (January 21 to 23) it intends to point the world to its aviation future when it hosts its own airshow for the first time.
Despite reporting a recent “pronounced upswing” in business jet charter business in the Gulf Cooperation Council territories, Middle East charter and aircraft management firm Rizon is rationalizing its activity in the area to cut costs.
MEBA organizers have declared themselves astonished by the impressive growth of the Middle East’s new biennial business aviation show. With 250 exhibitors from 29 countries along with 78 aircraft having converged here at Airport Expo Dubai this week, the 2008 edition will be 175 percent larger than the first show in January 2007.
The Arabian Gulf region has experienced an unprecedented period of economic activity over the past decade, especially here in Dubai, which has succeeded in reducing its reliance on oil to a point where its economy does not seem to depend on that sector for survival.
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