A UAE-based aerospace company will take over the civil air navigation services at five Abu Dhabi airports in a deal worth more than Dh538 million (US$1.97 billion).
Global Aerospace Logistics (GAL) will handle about 200,000 air traffic movements a year as part of the contract, which covers operations at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Bateen Executive Airport, Al Ain International Airport, Sir Baniyas Island Airport and Delma Island Airport.
The agreement with Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) was signed yesterday and comes into effect on May 1. It is initially for five years but is extendable for a further two.
GAL currently provides all military air navigation services for the UAE armed forces and was one of at least eight companies to compete for the tender, which included Serco, the current provider.
Ali Majed Al Mansoori, the chairman of Adac, said the company was proud to be partnering with a fellow UAE organisation.
"This agreement will definitely provide better services to the airlines and the aircraft coming to any of the five airports that are managed and operated by Abu Dhabi Airports Company," added Ahmad Al Haddabi, the chief operating officer of Adac at the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Air Expo, where the deal was announced.
"This agreement also extends to air traffic control, air traffic maintenance, air navigation services and equipment maintenance, so it is not only providing the air traffic but also all aspects of the air navigation services," he added.
There are some 200 air traffic controllers, assistant air traffic controllers, engineers and mechanics currently working at the airport, about 50 per cent of whom are Emirati.
"We made sure that the Emiratisation will continue and hopefully within the next five years we will move from 50 per cent to more than 80 per cent," said Mr Al Haddabi.
Under the terms of the deal, all Emirati employees working at the airport in roles relating to air navigation will automatically become GAL staff. Other nationalities will have to apply for positions.
GAL made its first foray into civil aviation last year, when it signed a two-year contract to provide air navigation services for Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. But the new deal represents a significant expansion of its capabilities in the sector.
"We aim to become both the UAE's and the Middle East's provider of choice for air navigation services," said GAL's chief executive, Hassan Yousuf Al Awadhi.
"With a commitment to world-class services and training, GAL provides many opportunities to young Emiratis in Air Traffic Control, both in operations and in management. GAL is honoured to be trusted by Adac for its leading expertise and looks forward to working with our customers and partners to meet the exciting challenges of the future."
In another agreement between two Emirati companies, the private plane operator Royal Jet announced yesterday that it plans to move from its current base at Abu Dhabi International Airport to Al Bateen, the Middle East's only dedicated airport for private jets.
"We are based in Abu Dhabi and this is the designated private jet airport, so it is a marriage of the operations," said Shane O'Hare, the president and chief executive of Royal Jet.
"The airport is very central. It has its own set up for catering for VIPs and we will build our head office, our operational base, our maintenance base, everything."
Royal Jet and Adac signed the memorandum of understanding yesterday and will now work out the finer details, but the move is expected to be completed within the year, Mr O'Hare said.
"The beauty of this airport is that there are many existing facilities, so there will be some renovations, some adaptation for Royal Jet needs. Most of it we can do really quickly."