The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to maximize the economic and social benefits of aviation.
Mr. Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, who spoke at the Arab Air Carriers’ Organization (AACO) AGM in Cairo, Egypt, highlights improving aviation infrastructure and enhancing competitiveness while working toward regulatory harmonization across the region as essential.
Notably, the Middle East has shown foresight in developing world-leading airport infrastructure. However, Mr. De Juniac sounds a note of caution on airport privatization plans in the region. He says: “As others across the region consider airport privatization our message is clear and simple: talk to all stakeholders—especially the airlines—to ensure that you gain the best long-term economic and social benefits. There is no need for governments in the region to repeat the mistakes that have been made in other parts of the world. Consultation is not just key, it is a must,” says Mr. de Juniac.
IATA expresses concern for air traffic delays in the Gulf. The average delay per flight attributed to ATC issues in the region is 29 minutes. Without urgent progress, that could double by 2025 costing over $7 billion in lost productivity and adding over $9 billion to airline operating costs.
Furthermore, IATA says rising costs in the MENA region must be brought under control to preserve its competitiveness. “Since 2016 we have seen $1.6 billion added to industry costs in the MENA region. Every dollar in extra charges is a challenge for the region’s airlines that make only $5.89 per passenger. Moreover, it is a dis-incentive for passengers which impacts broadly across the economy,” says Mr. de Juniac.
Mr. De Juniac also harps on harmonized regulation, gender diversity and talents as critical to making the MENA realize the full benefits of aviation.