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AACO 2011: Annual general meeting draws to a close in Abu Dhabi

The Tunis Convention for the reciprocal exemption from taxes on aviation between Arab states, relations between the European Union and Arab nations and the continued importance of the environment were among the hot topics at the Arab Air Carries Organisation (AACO) annual general meeting in Abu Dhabi.

Some 300 delegates were welcomed to the 44th instalment of the annual event – held under the chairmanship of James Hogan (pictured), chief executive of Etihad Airways – which drew to a close earlier after two days of discussions.

How to deal with the carbon footprint of aviation in a fair and balanced way was perhaps the most debated topics and has been highlighted at the last two annual general meetings.

As a pressing issue of global concern, AACO delegates argued the issue should be addressed globally within the framework of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), taking into consideration the special situation of airlines in developing countries.

AACO members objected to unilateral approaches unlikely to address environmental concerns. Of particular concern was the unilateral EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

James Hogan closed the event during a spectacular party at Yas Viceroy

Calls were also heard to respect states’ sovereignty over their airspace with the Arab Civil Aviation Commission urged to constitute an Arab position with regard to the extra territoriality of applying the EU ETS on non-EU airlines.

Second, the 25 AACO member airlines addressed aviation relations between the EU and the Arab world.

The AGM called upon the Arab Civil Aviation Commission and relevant stakeholders in the Arab League of States to launch a dialogue with the relevant European parties to realise an Arab-European aviation framework.

This would allow both parties to reach a set of principles that guarantee a balanced relation between the two regions.

In difficult times the AACO also revived an initiative originally launched by Arab states in 1979 - the Tunis Convention – designed to allow reciprocal exemption of taxes for the Arab aviation stakeholders between Arab countries.

Some 300 delegates with in Abu Dhabi for the 44th annual general meeting

Annual Report

Delegates at the annual general meeting also received the AACO Annual Report, the yearly harvest of all achievements, developments, industry challenges and joint projects’ results.

This was accompanies by the Annual Arab Air Transport Statistics publication highlighting the major operational developments related to the Arab airlines, airports and partner airlines as well as a synopsis on the world air transport developments at large.

AACO secretary general, Abdul Wahab Teffaha, presented the report referencing burdens faced by the industry in general, the changes the Arab world and consequently the Arab air transport industry witnessed this year.

Earlier in the day, ACCO delegates welcomed International Air Transport Association (IATA) secretary general Tony Tyler to the event.

Calling for closer integration among carriers in the region, 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 also called on the region’s governments to support IATA’s Checkpoint of the Future initiative.

“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,” he explained.

The Joint Aviation Forum discussed the relationship between Europe and the Arab world

Working Sessions

During the formal section of the event, AACO secretary general Wahab Teffaha and Sabre Airline Solutions’ chief executive Hugh Jones signed an agreement stating Sabre will be providing member airlines with regular management information reports highlighting opportunities and threats.

During the second working session Ghaida Abdullatif, chairperson of AACO Executive Committee and chief executive of Syrian Arab Airlines, presented a report on the committee’s work supervising the AACO.

The third working session gathered distinguished panellists who shared their views on ‘Europe and the Arab World: Competition within Cooperation’.

The Joint Aviation Forum panel was moderated by John McCulloch, senior principal at Seabury with the participation of Khalid Al Molhem, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Filip Cornelis, head of unit European Commission, Akbar Al Baker chief executive officer Qatar Airways, Philip Good policy advisor of DG Climate Action European Commission and Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, Secretary General Association European Airlines.

The panel was moderated by John McCulloch of Seabury Aviation & Aerospace

Arab Air Carriers Organisation 2012

The Arab Air Carriers Organisation annual general meeting also set the dates for 45th instalment of the event, to be held on November 5th-6th 2012 in Algeria.

In 2013, the 46th meeting will be held in Doha, Qatar.