The prioritisation of aviation as a key strategic asset could generate an extra $80 billion in GDP for the UAE economy by 2037, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in its latest report.
The aviation sector is also predicted to add an extra 620,000 jobs to the UAE economy by 2037, IATA said.
Air transport’s contribution to the UAE economy is already significant. The industry at present supports nearly 800,000 jobs and contributes $47.4 billion to the economy, accounting for 13.3 per cent of the UAE’s GDP.
If the government continues to pursue a positive agenda for aviation, the UAE’s aviation market will grow 170 percent by 2037, support 1.4 million jobs and contribute $128 billion in GDP to the nation’s economy, IATA said.
Capacity must be increased to meet demand
The airline body suggested that the UAE should increase its airspace capacity to ease congestion and meet future demand, reported sister title Arabian Business.
“Airspace capacity in the region has not kept pace with the growth in demand, which is leading to significant delays particularly in the GCC. Governments in the region must replace political fragmentation with collaborative cross-border decision-making to ensure that the global competitiveness of the region’s hubs is not affected,” the report stated.
IATA also recommended that the UEA should align infrastructure investments with expected growth and continue to leverage new technology to enhance efficiency.
“Future infrastructure investments must provide enough capacity to meet market demand and ensure airline technical and service level needs are aligned and remain affordable,” stated the report.
“Fast adoption of new technology and initiatives to integrate aviation with future modes of transportation will enhance the competitiveness of the UAE as an aviation hub,” it said.
“Over the past 25 years, the UAE has experienced an economic transformation; aviation has been at the heart of this evolution. Today the UAE is ranked number one globally for air trade facilitation, tops the Middle East region for visa openness, is an aviation powerhouse and its airlines carry the country’s flag to all corners of the globe,” said Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA's regional vice president for the Middle East.
Aviation is a huge jobs enabler
Airlines, airport operators, airport on-site enterprises (restaurants and retail), aircraft manufacturers, and air navigation service providers employ 180,000 people in UAE.
In addition, by buying goods and services from local suppliers, the sector supported another 120,000 jobs, according to IATA data.
The aviation sector is also estimated to support a further 68,000 jobs through the wages it pays its employees, some or all of which are subsequently spent on consumer goods and services.
Foreign tourists arriving by air to UAE, who spend their money in the local economy, are estimated to support an additional 409,000 jobs.
In total 777,000 jobs are supported by air transport and tourists arriving by air, said the IATA report.
The top international tourist arrivals (by all modes of transport), by region of residence hailed from East Asia and the Pacific.
Almost 13 million passengers arrived to the UAE from Asia-Pacific in 2018 (44.8 percent of total), 6.2 million passengers arrived from Europe (21.5 percent) and 6 million passengers arrived from the Middle East (20.7 percent).