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Middle East air traffic raises questions of control

Middle East air traffic raises questions of control

Much has been made of the aviation industry’s growth in the Middle East in the past year. Being the only region to post growth in 2009 of 11.2%, 2010 has seen the trend continue, with an increase of 19.4% over the first seven months of the year according to International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Such growth, partly due to the region’s growing significance in the world market, has seen airliners face increasing demands to expand their fleet, with estimates forecasting a 2,340 increase of planes to accommodate the phenomenal growth over the next 2 decades (Gulf News). Such expenditure has already been seen with Emirates Airline and Qatar airways bolstering their fleets with new purchase orders in the last few months.

What all this means for the regional airports is a continued spike in traffic and a race to accommodate such growth. OAG, a US based global leader in aviation intelligence, reports that Dubai International Airport recently surpassed John F. Kennedy International Airport New York in capacity for the first time. Based on the industry’s growth trend, the region’s airports have no option but to expand to keep up. Taking the lead are Dubai International Airport, scheduled to open its 4th terminal in 2012, and the recent opening of Al Maktoum International airport.

With the region’s expansion well and truly in force, greater emphasis on control has become key, especially with 80% of the region’s airspace restricted to military use, making airspace control for the fastest growing air traffic region imperative for the Middle eastern industry’s success.

Technological advances in managing such growth will be a key element. A view shared by Ehab Abdel Galil, Air Traffic Controller at the National Air Navigation Services Company (NANSC) in Egypt, in his comment “New technology, such as satellite CNS, enables a lot of Middle East countries to restructure their ATC units and their airspace”. He went on to add “More collaboration between civilian and military authorities to meet the growth of traffic in this region is needed. I think the whole region is moving forward on these issues, which will impact the redesign of regional network airways.”


Such issues affecting the future of the aviation industry makes Air Traffic Control Optimization Summit 2010, to be held on 1 - 2 November 2010 at the Trader’s Hotel in Dubai, UAE all the more defining. With attending key speakers H.E. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General, GCAA, Chairman, ACAC Executive Council, UAE; Hazim Abudaowd, Director General SED ANS, General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), KSA; Michael Hayes, Chief Air Navigation & Aerodrome Regulations, General Civil Aviation Authority, UAE; and Ronald Rigney, Aviation Consultant, Abu Dhabi Department of Transport, Secretary, Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean ATS Coordination Group (ASIOACG), UAE; the summit will provide a key forum for industry professionals to network, as well as explore these issues and come up with workable solutions for the challenges ahead.