IATA identifies four priorities for MENA aviation industry

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Nov 6, 2019: Cost competitiveness, infrastructure, harmonised regulation, and gender diversity, are the four priorities identified for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) aviation industry.

Airlines body IATA called on governments and industry in the region to focus on these factors to secure the future of aviation in the region amid challenging operating environment.

At the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) in Kuwait, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO said: “The direction of the global economy is uncertain. Trade tensions are taking their toll. The region is at the nexus of conflicting geopolitical forces with real consequences for aviation. And airspace capacity constraints have become more extreme. But people want to travel. And economies in MENA are thirsty for the benefits that aviation brings.”

IATA highlighted the need for low-cost infrastructure for airlines in MENA.

“Some airlines in the region are doing well, but overall Middle East carriers are expected to lose USD $5 per passenger this year—far below the global average of USD $6 profit per passenger. Low-cost infrastructure is essential. Our message to governments is simple: follow ICAO principles, consult users with full transparency and recognize that rising costs have long-term negative consequences. Aviation’s benefits are in the economic activity that the industry catalyzes, not in the tax receipts it generates,” said de Juniac. 

In terms of infrastructure, IATA said that ‘adequate infrastructure is not just about the bricks and mortar’. Technology that is implemented is key, in order to ensure efficient operations for airlines as well as passengers.

IATA also called on the region to continue to take a leading role in using technology to drive improvement in the passenger experience, highlighting recent projects at airports in Dubai, Doha and Muscat that use biometric technology. The projects are aligned with industry’s One ID vision for biometric identification which enables paperless travel. 

While stressing the need for regulatory harmonization across the industry, it urged governments to implement the global standards that they have agreed to.

De Juniac called on regulators in the region to use the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) to complement their own national safety oversight activities. Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iran and Syria have already done so. The safety performance of airlines on the IOSA registry is three times better than airlines not on the registry.

De Juniac raised concerns over the proliferation of disparate consumer protection regulations in the region and called on Arab states to follow ICAO guidance.  

De Juniac called on a united approach by regulators to help rebuild confidence in the Boeing 737 MAX as efforts continue to ensure a safe return to service. 

25by2025 Campaign, a voluntary program to address the airline industry’s gender imbalance, was also discussed at the meeting, stressing the need for region’s airlines to support it.

Participating airlines commit to increase the number of women at senior levels and in key positions by 25 percent or to a minimum of 25 percent by 2025. From MENA Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian have already taken up this commitment. 

IATA addressed climate change and spoke about the industry’s efforts to cut its emissions. De Juniac called on governments in the region to support the industry’s goal of capping carbon emissions from 2020 by participating in CORSIA—the Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Scheme for International Aviation—from the initial voluntary period.

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