x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE air traffic to double in decade

The number of aircraft in the UAE's skies is expected to almost double in the next decade, according to the General Civil Aviation Authority.

The number of aircraft in the UAE's skies is expected to almost double in the next decade, according to the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

Last year, aircraft movements increased 6.7 per cent to 741,450, data for the UAE Flight Information Region (FIR) showed. The UAE FIR will have 895,468 flight movements in 2015 and more than 1.13 million flight movements by 2020.

The Emirates' airspace will have 1.62 million aircraft movements by 2030, Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, the director-general of the GCAA told the in-house publication Via Dubai.

Growing congestion in the skies above the Arabian Gulf is one of the most serious problems threatening the growth of the region's aviation industry, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Aircraft are already being frequently delayed on the ground or kept flying holding patterns above the region's airports for between 40 minutes and an hour, Iata's director and chief executive, Tony Tyler, said last month.

The UAE has taken several measures to ease the congestion problem, Mr Al Suwaidi said.

"The first phase of the UAE Airspace enhancement programme ... is focused on assessing current air traffic operations and management at airports and in airspace, and to provide suitable recommendations and solutions," he said.

"In addition, there have been many airspace changes in 2012, such as the RNP AR project in Abu Dhabi, Dubai Airport Development Phase 1 and the launch of the Delta sector. Now, there are ongoing airspace proposals due for implementation in 2013 with Bahrain and Oman," he said.

The UAE airspace is among the smallest but most important in the world because of its strategic location between the East and the West.

It is controlled from the Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre, the largest and most advanced air traffic management facility in the Middle East.

Opened in 2009, the centre handles more than 2,100 air traffic movements per day for the eight international airports in the UAE as well as the over-flying movements.

* with Wam