Senior aviation leaders discussed the state of the industry and outlined the predictions for the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region’s civil aviation sector at the Aeropolitical Affairs Forum.
Representatives from International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission (CARC) and Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC) all took part in the debates and panel discussions at the forum.
“Effective partnership is crucial to a successful aviation system, and it is hugely significant that all the aviation representatives here today pledged greater cooperation and collaboration to ensure that civil aviation will continue to grow and develop,” said Hussein Dabbas, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa-Middle East.
Captain Mohamed Amin Al Quran, CEO, CARC said: “Aviation is not a one man show. As regulators we must work together to keep air transport safe, secure, efficient and sustainable.”
Liberalization is a widespread, general trend that has emerged across the industry. Mohamed Khonji, regional director, ICAO, argued that liberalization can lead to significant benefits for the industry and the public, leading to growth and economic development.
By May 2014, there were more than 400 Open Skies agreements that involve 146 states. ICAO has developed a package of policy framework that covers a range of areas including market access, safeguards and taxation. ICAO is putting together a long term vision for liberalization, which will continue to be a key focus for the council for the next few years. Governing bodies will consider the drafted ICAO agreement at the next general assembly in 2016.
Furthermore, the aviation industry faces a significant environmental challenge, but it has firm targets and a robust strategy for tackling carbon emissions. In the Middle East, there is a need to maximize airspace efficiency, in order to reduce distance flown and reduce CO2 emissions.
IATA urged states to act now in adopting measures that reduce emissions and save fuel. ACAC is working on bringing states together to ensure a safe, secure, air transport industry that encourages sustainable development.
There has been significant increase in consumer regulation in the past decade. A patchwork of measures has led to uncertainty for operators and the general public. At the IATA AGM in June 2013, airlines unanimously adopted core principles on consumer protection, and many of these have been adopted by ICAO for discussion at the next general assembly.
Air Traffic Management continues to be a key issue for the region as capacity restrictions limit growth and add to costs and emissions. Speakers from ICAO, AACO, IATA and ACAC all highlighted the need for governments to work closely together to ensure harmonization of airspace regionally.
The forum discussed how Arab aviation can reach its full potential. Smart regulation will be a key enabler, including:
- Implementation of the Damascus convention, which will allow greater competition and let the most competitive airlines deploy the best service to the customer.
- A greater role for the private sector and a relaxation of ownership and control rules.
- Removal of restrictions on the movement of peoples and goods.