‘Middle East aviation sector resilient to global pressures’

June 17th, 2008 - 7:10 am ICT by IANS  

Dubai, June 16 (IANS) The aviation sector in the Middle East will be resilient to global aviation concerns like spiralling oil prices, economic downturn and increasing environmental challenges, according to the head of Emirates Airline. “The global aviation industry is enjoying mixed fortunes at the moment - there is both positive and negative news,” Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president and chief executive of Emirates and president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, said here Monday.

“But here in Dubai we believe there is the potential for it to be all good news especially for all of those in the aircraft interiors sector,” he added.

He said this at the opening of Aircraft Interiors Middle East (AIME)-2008, a two-day exhibition dedicated to the aircraft interiors industry.

Sheikh Ahmed said though airlines around the world were cancelling back routes and postponing orders, carriers in the Gulf continued to see unrivalled growth.

“Although some routes may be affected, others are growing at a rapid pace. That is why Emirates airlines continues to push for the new fleet deliveries we need to sustain our growth. We believe that growth will continue despite the global economic uncertainty,” he said.

“And we are not alone. (Bahrain’s national carrier) Gulf Air has bought new jets in the past month. In Abu Dhabi, Etihad is driving an ambitious growth strategy, and we’ve recently seen the introduction of several more low-cost carriers operating regionally,” he said.

Sheikh Ahmed said new trans-Atlantic routes were opening up and more airlines were continuing to come to Dubai “with most planning to utilise the new Al Maktoum airport at Dubai World Central Aviation City when it begins operations next year”.

When fully operational, the Al Maktoum airport will be the world’s largest airport with the capacity to handle 120 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo annually.

“And so, it is fair to say, the aviation industry is booming in the Middle East,” said Sheikh Ahmed.

He added that as a result of this, new opportunities were being created in the aircraft interiors market for both designers and the people who supplied them with materials and equipment.

Outlining the key trends influencing the aircraft interiors industry, the Emirates CEO said: “The Middle East’s aerospace market - which is predicted to buy and receive an additional 870 aircraft by 2027 - is proving to be an important growth catalyst for the international aircraft interiors market.”

Around 100 companies from 15 countries are participating in AIME-2008.

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