The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for a renewed focus on cooperation among aviation stakeholders in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region to manage the challenges of growth.
Addressing an industry audience at the Arab Air Carriers Organisation annual general meeting in Abu Dhabi, IATA secretary general Tony Tyler said: “Aviation is a challenging industry, so let us work together, where we can, to meet the challenges of growth and make aviation even more successful.”
He continued: “The story for the MENA region is growth.
“In 2004 MENA carriers accounted for less than seven per cent of international traffic. Today it is over 11 per cent.
“The double digit growth trend of Middle East carriers over the last years has fuelled this expansion.
As an example of growth in the region, Tyler noted the UAE is expecting 8.5 per cent average annual growth through 2015.
“If that materialises, in 2015 it will handle 86.6 million international passengers—nearly 30 million more than in 2010.
“And it will be the 8th largest market for international travel—only slightly smaller than China at 90 million passengers and well ahead of Japan at 70 million.
“This will be an extraordinary achievement,” said Tyler.
However, Tyler also identified four key challenges to growth that must be addressed:
Safety: “Safety comes first,” continued Tyler, “It is the industry’s top priority.”
The Middle East region currently is experiencing one Western-built jet hull loss accident for every 1.2 million flights compared to a world average of one for every 2.7 million flights.
“The challenge of raising the region to the world standard is made more complex with growth,” added Tyler.
“Global standards are the way forward on safety.
“The region has done a good job of implementing the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). And it has taken a leading role with the
implementation of the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) with 27 of the 132 registrations in the MENA region.
“Along with being mandated by the government of Lebanon, relevant authorities in Kuwait, Jordan, the UAE and Oman have given ISAGO their endorsement.
“I encourage others to follow,” said Tyler.
IATA secretary general Tony Tyler outlined an agenda of cooperation
Security: Tyler called on the region’s governments to support IATA’s Checkpoint of the Future initiative.
“Security as we do it today works, but it is not sustainable given the growth in demand that we are expecting.
“The Checkpoint of the Future will take a risk-based approach to airport screening—eliminating the hassle and improving efficiency with technology and intelligence based on passenger information.
“Twelve states and Interpol have signed a statement of principles supporting the concept.
“So far none is from this region. I look forward to working with AACO to ensure that MENA governments become part of this global initiative,” said Tyler.
IATA also urged the region to move forward with Secure Freight—an IATA initiative to introduce a similar risk-based approach to secure the entire air freight supply chain.
“Secure Freight means shippers, freight forwarders, airports, airlines and regulators working together on a multi-layered approach combining advanced electronic information and physical screening.
“The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is aligned with this vision. And it is already being implemented in the UAE,” added Tyler.
Infrastructure: “Airports across the region are being prepared for growth with $100 billion in investments.
“But I am concerned for the potential bottlenecks in the sky if air navigation service providers are unable to keep ahead of the traffic growth.
“The challenge is made all the more difficult because it must be accommodated with just 40 per cent of the airspace permanently open to civil aircraft.
“The rest of the airspace is controlled by the military and under restricted access or off-limits to civilian aircraft.
“Cooperation in a coherent regional approach is needed to manage the growth safely and efficiently,” said Tyler.
The priorities, explained the IATA chief, to ensure air traffic management keeps pace with the region’s growth are (1) more route options, (2) harmonisation of technology and operations and (3) flexible use of airspace in cooperation with the military.
Tyler’s remarks were well received by the 300 industry delegates
Environment: “Environment also needs cooperation but with a global—not regional—approach.
“COP-17 began in Durban this week and aviation has a good story to tell, with commitments across the value chain to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 per cent annually to 2020, cap net emissions from 2020 and cut net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005 levels,” said Tyler.
Tyler reiterated the industry’s opposition to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which will distort markets and open the door to a patchwork approach of conflicting, competing or layered measures including taxation.
“The industry supports market based measures. But they must be globally coordinated through ICAO,” said Tyler who also expressed concern over the EU’s promotion of the concept of equivalent measures negotiated on a state-by-state basis with no defined criteria.
“Following such an approach would open the door to layered, conflicting and duplicated taxes and measures.
“It would be a nightmare for the industry and no substitute for a global approach under the leadership of ICAO.
“My focus on running IATA is on delivering value and innovation and being responsive to the needs of the membership. Under my watch, you can expect the same great services from IATA in safety, managing the industry financial systems, advocating on your behalf and supporting issues that are critical to your business.
“On top of that, I will be challenging my IATA team to find innovative ways to deliver these services even more efficiently as technology develops and your needs evolve,” concluded Tyler.