x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Civil aviation boom has many spin-offs

Civil aviation in the UAE and the Gulf just keeps growing - and generating jobs - as the region becomes the world's airline hub.

Civil aviation is the thread that stitches together the fabric of globalisation, spanning the world to build irreplaceable personal, economic, and official connections among our planet's 7 billion residents.

The commercial aviation industry is, however, notorious for its boom-and-bust cycles, which usually follow the global economy closely. So it is particularly encouraging, in this time of financial uncertainty, to note that this has been a remarkably good week for aviation in the UAE and the region.

A new Emirates Airline order for 50 advanced Boeing jetliners, announced at the Dubai Airshow, sends a clear signal about the prime place the UAE's airlines are claiming and building for themselves.

The $26 billion (Dh95.5bn) purchase demonstrates that Emirates, already the world's leading international-passenger carrier, has plans to keep on growing. Other airlines in the region, too, are taking advantage of geography to expand briskly. The new silk road from Europe and the Americas to much of Asia leads through DXB, AUH and other airports in our region. As jetliners keep getting cleaner, quieter, and more fuel-efficient, Gulf airlines are staying on the leading edge of this progress.

An important by-product of this boom is a series of economic spin-offs which can only be good for the region: just yesterday, for example, The National reported that experts say as many as 32,700 pilots will have to be hired by the region's airlines by 2029. No wonder a new pilot-training facility has just been announced for Abu Dhabi; others may well follow.

Meanwhile, a unit of Mubadala Development will become a supplier of structural airplane components to Boeing, bringing some of that $26 billion back to the region through highly skilled jobs.

There's more, too: A fledging airline, Eastern Express, yesterday announced plans to begin with a service between Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. Feeder airlines, too, are part of the aviation boom.

There will no doubt be occasional commercial turbulence along the way, but geographical advantage, deep-pockets financing, careful planning, and technological progress are creating an opportunity for this country and the region to become a true hub for long-haul travel. It is hard to think of a more welcome industry.