The Middle East’s aviation sector is booming with regional aircraft fleets forecast to grow at an annual rate of more than 10 per cent over the coming decade.
A recent study conducted by Oxford Economics for air traffic management specialist NATS found that skies above the region are becoming overcrowded.
Currently the Middle East carries 5 per cent of global air traffic and that figure is anticipated to reach 7 per cent by 2030.
The congestion represents a significant threat to the two million jobs that depend on aviation and to the overall $116bn regional aviation economy, the report warned.
It calculated that the average flight in the region was delayed by 36 minutes and that 82 per cent of those delays were attributable to air traffic control capacity and staffing issues.
By 2025, without further investment in air traffic control systems, a doubling of delays to 59 minutes would cost the region $16.3bn, it added.
However, investments in institutional, operational and technological air traffic control systems can help the region avoid doubling the delays.
Enhancements to air traffic control can help the region save the $16.3bn, of which 44 per cent (or $7.2bn) would be realised by passengers and 56 per cent ($9.1bn) to airlines (through faster travel times), the report said.
In a special video discussion, the report’s author and senior economist with Oxford Economics Kareen El Beyrouty, the assistant director general ANS at the General Civil Aviation Authority Ahmed Al Jallaf and director of NATS Middle East John Swift consider the impact of additional investment in the Middle East’s airspace.