Dubai Airshow 2023: UAE air traffic movement to surpass pre-pandemic in 2023, reaching 900,000

Aviation contributes approximately 14% to the country's economy


Waheed Abbas

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Emirates planes parked at Dubai airport. — File photo
Emirates planes parked at Dubai airport. — File photo

Published: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 6:55 PM

Air traffic movement in the UAE is projected to reach up to 900,000 by the end of 2023, surpassing pre-pandemic levels of 2019 by over 10 per cent, said Ahmed Al Jallaf, assistant director-general for Air Navigation Services.

He said average daily air traffic exceeds 2,500 movements.

Air Navigation Services is part of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority.

It is estimated that air traffic movements will double by 2030 within the UAE airspace, one of the busiest in the world.

This was announced during the Dubai Airshow 2023, where local carriers Emirates and flydubai placed orders for 125 aircraft worth $63 billion (Dh231.2 billion). Set to be delivered in the coming years, these massive number of new aircraft requires the deployment of advanced air navigation systems.

On Wednesday, Dubai Airports said flight movements in Q3 surged by 5.1 per cent to 106,000. It handled 308,000 in total flight movements between January and September, up 25.2 per cent year-on-year.

The aviation sector contributes approximately 14 per cent to the country's economy. The International Air Transport Association (Iata) expects the sector to grow by 170 per cent by 2037, supporting 1.4 million job opportunities compared to the current 777,000 and contributing around $128 billion to the country's economy.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) on Wednesday also announced Dh700 million modernisation of air navigation services over the next decade amidst the continuous growth in air traffic, massive new airports, and expansion of national carriers.

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director-general of the GCAA, said there was a logical need for a corresponding increase in airspace capabilities and this new programme is crucial for the country's position as a regional and international aviation hub.

Al Suwaidi said the GCAA the new programme involves investing over Dh700 million in the next decade to modernise and upgrade infrastructure, invest in human capacity building, support Emiratisation, and establish an air traffic management centre of innovation in the UAE.

Al Suwaidi said the UAE is the first country in the Middle East to implement the Free Route Airspace concept, which offers airspace users the ability to fly directly according to their field flight plan route while ensuring efficiencies in fuel planning, consumption and costs.

He added that more than 55,000 flights are expected to benefit from the Free Route Airspace project, projected to achieve annual operational savings exceeding Dh50 million for airlines. The project will also help reduce carbon emissions in the country's skies.

Al Jallaf said it is natural to work on new investment plans to update air navigation services to achieve the highest levels of safety and increase airspace capacity.

In addition, the GCAA, Tawazun Council and Thales signed an agreement to develop comprehensive and state-of-the-art Air Traffic Management (AFTM) solutions through a new joint innovation lab based in the UAE which will optimize aircraft capacity, reducing congestion and delays, and maximise aircraft traffic predictive analysis.

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