Aviation Industry Must Work Together to Take on Challenges

May 13--The two-day knowledge-sharing platform for aviation industry professionals has a line-up of 30 key global government decision makers, policy makers, thinkers and visionaries.

The aviation industry needs quick solutions to challenges and coordination among stakeholders for sustainable growth, top industry specialists echoed on the first day of Global Airport Leaders' Forum in Dubai on Monday.

The forum, a co-located event of the 14th Airport Show, opened in the presence of Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman of Emirates airline and Chief Executive of the Emirates Group.

In addition to discussions about challenges and solutions, the key players of the UAE and global aviation industry also debated for enhancing competitiveness to broaden the socio-economic role and contribution of airports during the inaugural session.

The two-day knowledge-sharing platform for aviation industry professionals has a line-up of 30 key global government decision makers, policy makers, thinkers and visionaries.

Industry players said that the challenges faced by the aviation industry are huge, while quick solutions are limited. So there is a need to look at broadening cooperation and coordination among stakeholders and adopt latest technologies that will contribute to air traffic management efficiency to accommodate the anticipate air traffic growth.

Organised by Reed Exhibitions Middle East, the forum is being attended by delegates from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, where $100 billion investments are earmarked for airport developments.

In his welcome speech, Khalifa Al Zaffin, executive chairman of the Dubai Aviation City Corporation, said the forum has provided aviation industry professionals the opportunity to discuss common issues, generate innovative solutions to meet head-on the present and future challenges, and most importantly drive global economic and social improvement and advancement.

He said that the first phase of Dubai World Central -- an economic zone that supports logistics, aviation, commercial, business, humanitarian and residential activities around Al Maktoum International Airport -- has been completed and work is underway to accelerate the development in all major components in the coming years.

"The potentials of this ambitious project in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits are very immense. Our world-class infrastructure, economic diversities, and long-term investment opportunities will take Dubai's aviation industry to new heights," he said.

In his keynote address, Omar bin Ghaleb, deputy director-general of the General Civil Aviation Authority, or GCAA, said the aviation industry has been able to continue its growth and expansion in spite of the enormous challenges and obstacles. He said the GCAA took the expertise of Airbus ProSky last year to redesign and upgrade the airspace to cope with the unbridled growth in air traffic in the UAE Flight Information Region. As many as 53 recommendations made by the Airbus ProSky were being carried out across a broad spectrum of airports operations and air traffic management.

Moderating a panel discussion on "Airport Development: Economic pillars to increase national competitiveness", Laila bin Hareb Al Muhairi, assistant director-general of Strategy and International Affairs at the GCAA, said the $2.2-trillion aviation industry with 3,850 airports under its wings, if considered as a country, would rank 19th in the world for GDP.

She said the UAE was aiming to go two notches up in the Global Competitiveness Report by 2020 for quality of airports, in line with the vision of the country's leadership.

Joining the panel, Al Zaffin underscored the need for effective and extensive interface between the government and aviation industry stakeholders, as has been case with Hong Kong and Singapore, in rising to the huge challenges and ensuring competitiveness. He suggested improvements to passenger experience and facilitation which contributes to improve the competitiveness levels of airports.

Mohammed Al Bulooki, chief commercial officer of the Abu Dhabi Airports Company, highlighted the need for focusing more passenger facilitation at the airports and enlarging the scope of cooperation and collaboration among the aviation industry stakeholders for national competitiveness.

Homaid Al Shemmari, chief commercial officer of Aerospace and Engineering Service at Mubadala, took the debate on creating a pool of talented and qualified Emirati cadre for the aviation industry further up by saying that the UAE will continue its reliance on expatriates for its multi-faceted economic development in the coming years given the shortage of UAE nationals to replace them in various technical and operational domains.

Dr Mustafa Sani Sener, chief commercial officer and executive board member of the TAV Group of Turkey, involved in 14 airport developments in the Middle East, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, endorsed the effectiveness and benefits of collaborative decision-making for airports in remaining efficient and competitive.

Mohammed Al Rais, managing director and senior vice-president of Hill International Middle East, said the success of UAE in the aviation sector was the outcome of the advance planning, timely decision-making, effective implementation and involvement of all stakeholders in the development process.

"Airports are gateways to a country. They need to provide good impact on and experience to the passengers which they can remember and talk about. The UAE is a good example of innovation," he added.

Copyright 2014 - Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates