Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
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Aviation industry flies towards sustainable, tech-driven growth

Aviation industry flies towards sustainable, tech-driven growth

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DUBAI: The UAE’s aviation industry has soared to great heights since the country welcomed its first travellers in the 1960s, developing over the decades into a global powerhouse for air connectivity and standing in the post-Covid era at the cusp of a changing landscape with plans for sustainable and technology-driven future growth.

The local aviation industry’s development over the decades, starting with a sand-compacted runway in Dubai International Airport in 1960 and the first flights of Emirates airline with two wet-leased aircraft in 1985, has transformed the nation from a fishing and pearl-diving spot into a global centre for air transport, report agencies.

“The development of the UAE as a global aviation powerhouse started with a bold vision in the 1960s Collaboration. Careful planning and open competition have played a key role in the rise as a global aviation hub over the past few decades,” said Linus Bauer, founder and managing director of Bauer Aviation Advisory.

The UAE’s rise as a modern centre connecting East and West is a story of globalisation and an ambitious bet on the future of air travel as the nation celebrates its Golden Jubilee on December 2.

Over a series of milestones, Dubai transformed from a little-known desert airfield to a global airport connecting far-flung corners of the globe. Driving its success is the UAE’s strategic location between Europe and Asia within an eight-hour flight radius of two thirds of the world’s population, operating a pre-pandemic network of 240 destinations and home to the world’s largest long-haul airline Emirates.

Enabling the ease of decision-making and mapping out the larger picture, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum is the airline’s chairman and also runs the airport operator, as well as the aviation regulator.

In its aggressive pursuit for growth, Dubai International has retained its title of the world’s busiest airport by international passengers for seven years, as the emirate developed into a centre for transcontinental traffic between America and Europe with Asia.

The aviation industry has been a key pillar of the UAE’s economy and a driver of business activity, contributing about 13 per cent to the national gross domestic product, while boosting related sectors from hospitality to trade. It is now home to six national airlines ranging from low-cost to full-service operators.

“The aviation sector has been an essential factor behind the transformation of the UAE economy since the 1980s and its development into a regional and then global service hub,” said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. “This is not only the direct contribution of the sector but also its role in developing areas such as tourism, hospitality, logistics and trade and finance.”

Dubai took a long-term strategic decision to diversify its economy in the 1980s, focusing on developing its aerospace sector as part of a push to boost its non-oil revenue, transform the city into a business centre, create jobs and attract tourists.