UAE Urges More GCC Cooperation To Solve Air Traffic Congestion

Air traffic in the GCC is expected to grow by six per cent over the next few years, a top industry official said.



The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has called for more cooperation among civil aviation authorities in the GCC to deal with the region’s overcrowded skies.

Speaking at a conference this week, GCAA Director General Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi said that the air traffic movements in already over crowded skies across the GCC are expected to grow by six per cent in the coming few years.

“To manage this efficiently, we are looking at different and creative approaches to collaborate and find effective solutions together,” he said.

“Technology and modern innovations are key factors, together with regional cooperation.”

Air traffic movement in the UAE, estimated at 2,200 per day, is expected to grow to 5,100 daily in 2030, according to GCAA.

In addition, the rapidly expanding commercial operations of the Middle East airlines have further clogged the overcrowded skies in the region.

GCC states are expected to serve over 400 million passengers annually by 2020, with total aircraft movement in the Gulf airspace expected to hit over 2.3 million.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing estimates 2,950 of its new craft will enter service in the Middle East by 2032/33, 770 as replacements, and Airbus is expecting additions of 1,999 with 291 as replacements.

“The UAE has witnessed rapid traffic growth that necessitates immediate attention and commitment to ensure safe and efficient air traffic operations,” said Ahmed Al Jallaf, executive director of Air Navigation Services at the GCAA.

“As a result, various projects have been launched to enhance air traffic capacity covering both the airports and the airspace. It is a must that we steer our focus and investments towards enhancing the airspace infrastructure and modernising our ANS systems and new technologies.”

Industry experts too echo the call of aviation officials for greater coordination among the region’s authorities to avoid any negative impact on the aviation sector.

Last year, the regional head of UK air traffic management firm NATS told reporters that a “coalition of willing” will be needed among GCC authorities to facilitate relevant information sharing.

Swift further said there was “definitely” room for an aviation traffic coordination concept like Europe’s Eurocontrol to support planning, and focus on where air traffic bottlenecks are emerging.