Airlines and governments in the Middle East and North Africa should focus on four priorities to protect themselves and the industry from challenges in the industry.
That’s according to The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which advises that operators focus on cost competitiveness, infrastructure, harmonised regulation and gender diversity.
“The direction of the global economy is uncertain,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
“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 and urged a more cost competitive operating environment.
De Juniac.said: “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 catalyses, not in the tax receipts it generates.”
IATA urged governments to use technology to ensure that the infrastructure operates efficiently for airlines and conveniently for passengers.
”MENA governments have understood that infrastructure investments are needed to capture aviation’s economic and social benefits,” said de Juniac.
“But adequate infrastructure is not just about the bricks and mortar. The technology that we put into airports is as important. Passengers expect technologies like biometric identification and smart phones to shorten wait times and make airport processes more efficient.”
IATA also stressed the need for regulatory harmonisation across the industry and urged governments to implement the global standards that they have agreed to.
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.
He added: “It is no secret that women are under-represented in some technical professions as well as in senior management at airlines. It is also well-known that we are a growing industry that needs a big pool of skilled talent. If we don’t engage the female half of the world’s population much more effectively, we won’t have the needed people power to grow.”