The UAE's aviation market is poised to grow 170 per cent by 2037, support 1.4 million jobs and contribute $128 billion to the nation's economy, the International Air Transport Association, or IATA, said on Tuesday.
In its latest study on the importance of air transport to the UAE, the Montreal-based organisation said the domestic aviation industry at present supports nearly 800,000 jobs and contributes $47.4 billion to the economy, accounting for 13.3 per cent of the UAE's GDP.
However, given the ongoing prioritisation of aviation by the UAE government as a key strategic asset, the sector could generate an additional 620,000 jobs and an extra $80 billion in GDP for the nation's economy by 2037, the trade body of 290 airlines across the world said.
"Today the UAE is ranked number one globally for air trade facilitation, tops the Middle East region for visa openness, is an aviation powerhouse and its airlines carry the country's flag to all corners of the globe," said Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA's regional vice-president for the Middle East.
"To maintain the country's competitiveness as a leading global aviation hub, sufficient air space capacity to meet demand, infrastructure investments aligned to growth and rapid implementation of new technology are essential," said Albakri.
He pointed out that over the past 25 years, the UAE has experienced an economic transformation and aviation has been at the heart of this evolution.
"Few states have a better understanding of the economic benefits that aviation's connectivity provides than the UAE. Government policy supporting the development of aviation has paid great dividends."
Robin Kamark, chief commercial officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said the national carrier is proud of the significant role it plays in continuing the evolution of the Middle East region as a tourism and travel hub, as well as its contribution to the UAE's vision to become a leader in the global aerospace industry.
"As the national airline of the UAE, Etihad Airways is evolving and continuously looking for ways to provide our guests with more choice and a superior travel experience. We achieve this by having a robust innovation agenda that challenges the industry status quo, and leverages opportunities that come from new and improved technologies."
IATA identified three areas where government action can promote aviation's growth and bring even more value to the UAE. These include increasing airspace capacity to ease congestion and meet future demand; aligning infrastructure investments with expected growth; and continuing to leverage new technology and process innovation to enhance efficiency and passenger experience.
IATA said airspace capacity in the region has not kept pace with the growth in demand, which is leading to significant delays particularly in the GCC. Governments in the region must replace political fragmentation with collaborative cross-border decision-making to ensure that the global competitiveness of the region's hubs is not affected.
Future infrastructure investments must provide enough capacity to meet market demand and ensure airline technical and service level needs are aligned and remain affordable, IATA study said.
The study argued that fast adoption of new technology and initiatives to integrate aviation with future modes of transportation would enhance the competitiveness of the UAE as an aviation hub.
By Issac John
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