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Middle East aviation growth rate to be highest: IATA chief
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Middle East aviation growth rate to be highest: IATA chief

Despite the challenges facing the aviation industry, its future will be «promising» and its growth rate in the Middle East will be the highest and fastest in the world, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of International Air Transport Association (IATA), said in an interview with Qatar Sky magazine.

«The future of aviation is positive. People want to fly. We expect 7.2bn passengers to travel in 2035, a near doubling of the 3.8bn air travelers in 2016. And if trade liberalisation gathers pace, demand could triple the 2015 level,» De Juniac said.

The IATA chief said aviation is a major player in global economy as it contributes $2.7trn, equivalent to 3.5% of world gross domestic product (GDP), while also supporting 62.7mn jobs globally.

On the major challenges of safety, security and sustainability, De Juniac said that when it comes to safety, IATA’s strategy reflects the importance of global standards.

«The flagship is the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). It is the global standard or global best practice for operational safety. Every IATA airline must be on the IOSA registry. And even our non-members are using IOSA,» he said.

«We also face a growing vulnerability on security. Flying is secure but there are risks and challenges insider threats, landside exposure at airports, overflight of conflict zones, and cyber security. Efficient airport checkpoints are important. And our Smart Security programme is a risk-based approach that will make airport checkpoints more effective, efficient and convenient. But that alone is not enough to stay a step ahead of those who would do us harm,» the IATA director general told Qatar Sky magazine.

He added that sustainability «is a difficult one for a carbon-intensive industry that is growing to meet demand,» noting that governments attending the 39th ICAO assembly in October have agreed to a Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

«Aviation is committed to carbon-neutral growth from 2020. And by 2050 we want to cut net emissions to half of 2005 levels. CORSIA is a ground-breaking historical achievement that is critical to meeting our carbon neutral growth target. IATA is fully supporting ICAO, governments and airlines to iron out the details so that it will be implemented successfully,» he said.

Asked about the future of air transport in the Middle East, De Juniac said aviation supports 2.4mn jobs and nearly $160bn in economic activity. «That’s an impressive number. Over the next two decades we expect traffic in (and to) the region to grow by an average of 4.6% annually. That’s faster than the global average of 3.5%»…

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