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UAE Third in Air Traffic

The United Arab Emirates is in for a stiffer competition from players in the global aviation industry as a world leader in air traffic forecasting rated UAE as the third fastest growing country in the world after India and mainland China in terms of the number of air passengers.

Catherine Harmel-Tourneur, director of Canada-based ACI Traffic Forecast Advisory Services, said UAE's annual average growth of people leaving and coming through airports is estimated at 6.7 per cent from 2006 to 2025. She added that forecast for India's annual growth rate for the 20-year period is 10.4 per cent and, China's, 8.1 per cent.

"There's gonna be more competition because you're so successful and other people will copy you," Harmel-Tourneur told participants in a recent conference held on the sidelines of the just concluded Airport Expo Dubai, an exhibition of products and services in the global aviation industry.

While other industry players called for the improvement of air traffic control management in the expanding and growing number of airports in the UAE, Harmel-Tourneur praised local aviation authorities saying the country, especially Dubai, is years ahead than other countries in the region in terms of traffic development.

She said that ACI Traffic's latest forecast covers passengers, cargo and aircraft movements in 230 airports worldwide, representing 2.3 billion passengers or about 60 per cent of global activity.

ACI Traffic is the air traffic forecasting arm of Airports Council International (ACI) Worldwide, the world's trade association for airports, and DKMA, a leading aviation market research and analysis specialist.

Harmel-Tourneur said Asian and Middle Eastern countries would "grow the quickest" in terms of air traffic because these are young markets compared to those in Europe and the Americas.

She noted Asia Pacific's tremendous growth rate because of the populous nations of China and India, and the Middle East due to massive investments. She also stressed the growing number of populations having more disposable incomes in both regions.

She said that over the 20-year period total passenger traffic at world airports was estimated to reach from 4.32 billion in 2006 to 9.1 billion by 2025.

The growth rate forecast was set at 4.9 per cent in 2006 (but the actual growth was 4.8 per cent), 5.7 per cent for this year, and 3.6 per cent by 2025.

Streamline Marketing Group, organiser of the three-day Airport Show, said a good forecast allows the industry to better prepare for future scenarios of air traffic movement.

"An increase in passenger numbers does not correspond to an increase in air traffic," it said in a conference programme.

It stressed that there are now bigger aircraft carrying higher passenger loads, not to mention the low-cost carriers using secondary airports and the impending introduction of A-380.

By world region, the Middle East was at the top three with 4.6 per cent growth in passenger volume over 20 years against the 2005 figure, along with Asia Pacific and Africa with 5.8 per cent each. Europe and North America were seen to grow slowly, with 3.6 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.

The average growth rates by airport category were estimated at 4.4 per cent 3.7 per cent for 2005 to 2010 and 3.7 per cent over the 20-year period for large and medium airports. But small airports would grow the fastest at 5.7 per cent during the 2005-2010 period and 4.4 per cent over 20 years. (Khaleej TImes)

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