x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

UAE aviation to get $136bn of investment

The UAE will spend Dh500bn in aviation over the next 10 years with the intention to diversify economy and make the country a global hub.

UAE companies and state agencies will invest Dh500 billion (US$136.12bn) in the aviation industry over the next decade to diversify the economy and make the country a global transport hub, says the Minister of Economy.

In remarks reported by WAM, the state news agency, Sultan al Mansouri said the UAE intended to capitalise on its transport and communications infrastructure. The backing includes new aircraft for the five flag carriers in the UAE, huge investments for new airport capacity throughout the seven emirates, and plans for Abu Dhabi to become a regional centre for aircraft maintenance, manufacturing and flight training.

Mr al Mansouri said air traffic increased 11.5 per cent in the UAE in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year. "Over the next 10 years, the UAE will be investing Dh500bn in its aviation infrastructure improving connectivity and cementing our reputation as a key growth driver in global aviation," he said.

He noted that Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways had become global brands alongside other UAE brands such as Etisalat, Emaar and Masdar.

In addition to Emirates and Etihad, UAE flag carriers include the budget airlines flydubai and Air Arabia, while RAK Airways recently relaunched operations and flies to five regional destinations.

To cater for the strong passenger growth, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai's international airports are spending billions of dollars on new terminals and infrastructure.

Last month, there was an average of 1,888 aircraft flight movements each day in the UAE, a two-year high, the Federal General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said in its latest report. The movements are an increase of 6.9 per cent compared with the same month a year before. In total, there were 56,654 take-offs, landings and overflights in the UAE last month, underscoring the country's status as having one of the busiest airspaces in the region.

Meanwhile, the country's industrial plans for aviation are being spearheaded by Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. The company is overseeing plans to develop maintenance facilities for civilian and commercial aircraft, flight training, high-technology manufacturing for aircraft parts and research and development work.

igale@thenational.ae