The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to maximize the economic and social benefits of aviation.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said: “Aviation currently supports 2.4 million jobs and US$130 billion in economic activity across the MENA region.
“That represents 3.3% of all employment and 4.4% of all GDP in the region. Over the next 20 years we expect passenger numbers to grow by 4.3% annually.
“As aviation’s leaders we must work together and with governments to realize this potential---and the economic and social development that it will catalyze.”
De Juniac highlighted improving aviation infrastructure and enhancing competitiveness while working toward regulatory harmonization across the region as essential.
De Juniac sounded a note of caution on airport privatization plans in the region.
“As Saudi Arabia and 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,” said de Juniac.
IATA also expressed concern for air traffic delays in the Gulf, with the average delay per flight, attributed to ATC issues in the region, at 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.
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