IATA: MENA needs sufficient airspace capacity

In an address to the Arab Air Carriers Organization, International Air Transport Association CEO Tony Tyler identified key ways to improve aviation in the Middle East and North Africa. Chief among them, Tyler explained, is ensuring that the MENA region has sufficient airspace capacity to handle the influx of traffic.

“MENA must avoid the inefficiencies that we see in Europe,” Tyler told AACO members during their annual meeting in Algiers. “There is no room for complacency. In the Gulf, ATM delays are already nearing crisis levels. Evolving east-west traffic patterns are creating new challenges across the region, including North Africa.” Preventing air traffic management bottlenecks, Tyler said, mandates cooperation among states.

Even so, he praised the MENA region for making strides in aviation safety. So far, Tyler said, there hasn’t been one Western-built jet hull loss in the Middle East and North America in 2012. “This is a great achievement,” Tyler stated. “However, if we look at all accidents, the picture is different.”

The accident rate among carriers not appearing in the IATA Operational Safety Audit is roughly 3.5-times higher than those on the registry. Fortunately, Tyler told AACO members, the African Union is “moving toward” mandating IOSA registration.

Such actions will help the MENA region maintain its position as a global hotspot for aviation, Tyler explained. The region has especially seen an influx of freight traffic in 2012, with Middle Eastern carriers recording double-digit cargo growth in every month but January. Globally, however, cargo volumes have lagged throughout the year, IATA statistics revealed.

“The rise of the Gulf carriers is an amazing story,” Tyler said. “And even if we look at the less-headline-grabbing carriers in North Africa, we are seeing a healthy demand performance. MENA is a growing force in aviation.”

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