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Air travel boom leading to airspace congestion, environmental disasters

A phenomenal growth in aviation industry is raising concerns of airspace congestion and environmental disasters due to carbon emissions, say experts.

ABU DHABI: A phenomenal growth in air travel is leading to severe airspace congestion and likely environmental disasters due to alarming carbon emissions. Urgent measures are needed to be taken to improve matters, it was brought to light at the IATA Middle East Aviation Day in Abu Dhabi last week.

The emerging challenge is to increase the overall efficiency of the air traffic management (ATM) system through improved airspace design and organization. Collaboration among aviation stakeholders is essential to resolve the issues at sttake. The Governments need to help bring about the necessary technological changes.

With passenger traffic set to more than double over the next 20 years, the aviation industry is facing greater pressure to implement environmental solutions. The industry has a target of achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020. However, a 50% emission reduction is stated to be possible only by 2050, in comparison with the level of 2005.

The industry is chalking out a four-pronged plan such as new technology, improved operations, better use of infrastructure (which are already showing results) and a global offsetting scheme to drive carbon reductions, an initiative the governments need to deliver.

“In September next year, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly will make its decision on an MBM (market-based measure). In the hands of 190 states will be the power to make aviation’s carbon-neutral growth goal a reality. The stakes are high and I call on all governments in the region, and all aviation stakeholders, to remain united behind this vision, as the details are worked out,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director-General and CEO told the Abu Dhabi gathering.

IATA’s passenger forecast says the Middle East will continue to be one of the fastest growing regions in terms of passenger traffic, expanding 4.6% per year on average to 2034.

“The Middle East region’s success is a testament to the tremendous investment in people, infrastructure and aircraft that has transformed air connectivity, particularly in the Gulf. But the growth brings challenges that must be met. Chief among them at the present time is cooperation to bring greater efficiency to air traffic management (ATM). The challenge is to look beyond merely national issues and focus on an even bigger picture – the strategic development of aviation across the entire Middle East,” said Tyler.

The Middle East carriers recorded a traffic jump of 11.7 per cent in November from last year's level, IATA said. The growth was attributed to stable West asian economies in spite of plunging oil revenues. In fact, according to UAE authorities, the oil slump could stimulate global economic growth.

November 1, 2015


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