Middle East Air Traffic Sees De-congestion
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Middle Eastern airlines saw an increase in demand of passengers by 16.8 percent in July year-on-year, and by 19.4 percent over the first seven months of the year. The Middle East has seen phenomenal growth of air traffic due to increasing levels of traffic being diverted to this regional hub. This is causing significant pressure on the region's air traffic control operations. With around 80% of Middle Eastern airspace being restricted for military use, air corridors are becoming busier, and this is putting pressure on regional authorities to increase the capacity and efficiency of air traffic operations.
Despite warnings from IATA that this growth is unsustainable and is now entering a slower phase, the region is already experiencing flight and landing delays due to the amount of traffic. To cope with the growth, regional airlines are increasing their fleets. Leading the way is Emirates who already operate 12 Airbus A380 (world's largest airliner), and have 72 on order, amongst other recent purchases. Airports are not far behind either, with new projects such as Dubai's Al Maktoum International Airport, which is already operating flights, and Abu Dhabi's announced construction of a $7bn international airport to help meet traffic demands in the Emirate. Air traffic control operators and authorities are having to match this growth by either increasing the capacity of the region's corridors, or the efficiency of how they are used.
"New technology, such as satellite CNS, enables a lot of Middle East countries to restructure their ATC units and their airspace" said Ehab Abdel Galil, Air Traffic Controller at the National Air Navigation Services Company (NANSC) in Egypt. "More collaboration between civilian and military authorities to meet the growth of traffic in this region" is needed, according to Ehab. Working together would enable an increased availability of airspace to help relieve some of the traffic congestion in the Middle East. "I think the whole region is moving forward on these issues, which will impact the redesign of regional network airways," he added.
Ehab will join the Director-Generals of UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Saudi's Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), the Syrian Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), and Oman's Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority, to map out the best way forward in achieving this more efficient re-design of regional airspace at the 2nd Annual Air Traffic Control Optimisation Summit, to be held on 1 - 2 November 2010 at the Trader's Hotel in Dubai, UAE.