Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aviation in MENA

I read on an article entitled "comment: aviation needs better management" click here to read the full article. Below is my comment on that article with a few more insights.

Like everything else in the MENA region aviation is affected by politics, both regional and international. Several countries and by extension airlines face sanctions mostly by the USA such as Syria, Sudan, Somalia to name a few. The region is beset by political turmoil and armed conflict. Yemenia was almost black listed by the EU, MEA can not fly to the USA and Iraqi Airways had to be shut down and cease international operations because of claims by Kuwait Airways.

There is also the matter of national pride that stops in the way of progress not only in terms of subsidies to national carriers but also in restricting access by other airlines.

The idea of a single market similar to the EU is very far fetched and will take decades to materialize. Simply we need a long period of peace and stability to develop into a single market and a political union, in the same manner that the EU did.

However, there are encouraging signs; there are more countries that embrace open skies like the UAE, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and Qatar to name a few, some more liberal than others.

There is also a trend for the national civil aviation authorities to embrace EASA's EU-OPS (the European regulatory regime) which will standardize regulations and make cross border movement of aircraft and aviation assets easier, acceptance of maintenance standards and licensing.

Unless the region experiences stability and peace the efficient management of aviation will be very difficult. The mere fact that the region has thrived, amid the worst recession in modern history and a few armed conflicts, is a tribute to the ability of individual airlines and authorities to manage crises.

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