Abu Dhabi Aviation & Aerospace Week: One of the first of its kind, the Abu Dhabi Aviation and Aerospace Week has started off. Aviation and aerospace leaders from across the world will be visiting Abu Dhabi this week for discussing the major issues related to the aviation sector. The leaders are meeting in the capital as just calls intensify for Arabian Gulf economies to diversify away from oil. This major event at Abu Dhabi will run until Saturday and six aviation sector events will take place this week under this major event.
The 2nd Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference kick-started the line up on 5th March. This will include the third Global Aerospace Summit, the first Middle East Aviation Career Conference & Exhibition and the 4th Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2016. According to experts this is the best time for such a convention to take place. Discussions regarding economic diversification have always existed but in an era of free falling oil price, taking action is very crucial. Aviation is definitely one sector that can help in softening that blow.
The chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, Saj Ahmad said that “Diversification in an erratic economic climate is a must”. “To an extent, the UAE, despite its difficulties since the financial crisis seen several years ago, was always on a path to leverage the strength of non-oil dependency”. A recent report given by HSBC stated that sovereign, financial and corporate borrowers in the GCC must repay or refinance US $94 billion in bonds and loans this year and next. Also their ability to do so is challenged by the declining oil revenue, downgrades of regional creditworthiness and a squeeze on dollar liquidity.
In such a situation aviation can support some Gulf countries such as UAE and Qatar that are faring better than the others. The government has said that the aviation industry is said to make up 32% of Dubai’s GDP by 2020. The three most popular and reputed Gulf carriers: Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways are expanding their airport hubs in Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. They are also grabbing the market share from european airports such as Charles de Gaulle and Heathrow.
Addison Schonland, a founder and partner of US based commercial aviation consultancy AirInsight said that “Every economy must diversify to avoid the pitfalls of cycles. Look at Indonesia and other developing economies now that China is buying fewer commodities”.
“The GCC was smart to move into aviation as this created global awareness of these nations. It also built tourism, which is a great job creator since service industries require service providers.”
The Arabian Gulf skies are also becoming congested with three airport hubs in close proximity. Also the three big airlines are competing with each other in order to recruit skilled pilots, technicians and to build their infrastructure for accommodating the growing number of passengers.
Mr. Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research also added that “The decade of massive orders of jets by GCC airlines has led many pilots and technicians to come to the region but staffing these new aeroplanes comes at a cost. In the same way those aeronautical engineers are not being recruited fast enough, neither are pilots”.
“So something will have to give. If there aren’t enough pilots to fly your new fleet, then could it be that airlines either stand down their aeroplanes, park them up, defer them or even cancel orders altogether?”
Such issues will rank high on the agenda of this week’s aviation events. Mubarak Al Shamisi who is the director of the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau (that is a division of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, one of the key organizers for the week) said that “Abu Dhabi Aviation & Aerospace Week cements the central role the emirate of Abu Dhabi plays as a hub for stakeholders across the regional and global aviation industry to share key insights, best practices, and catalyse new relationships”.