Opportunities in aviation sector

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Okaz

We have a huge travel market as we host a large number of foreign workers in the Kingdom and millions of Haj and Umrah pilgrims arrive in the country every year.

EVEN though we have all the potentials to become a logistic hub for international travel, sadly we did not benefit from this fact, which could have reflected positively on our GDP and created more job opportunities for our people.

We have King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, which is the gateway to the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. We also have a strong infrastructure for domestic aviation with a network of 27 airports.

Some of these airports are located in the north of the Kingdom, which is a busy aviation route. This is in addition to the tourism potentials of the Kingdom from the Red Sea to the Arabian Gulf. We have a huge travel market as we host a large number of foreign workers in the Kingdom and millions of Haj and Umrah pilgrims arrive in the country every year.

All these elements did not encourage our civil aviation sector in the Kingdom to become competitive and grab its share of the travel market in the region.

The government continues to support the civil aviation sector financially and domestic aviation is totally dependent on state subsidies. Yes, there are some revenues generated, but it is not on a par with the size of the market.

The head of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said in press statement published in 2016 that the sector would be dependent on the government›s financial support until year 2020.

The UAE›s aviation sector is an obvious model for how to benefit from the prevailing opportunities. It accounts for AED169 billion, which is 15 percent of the country›s GDP. The sector generated half a million job opportunities and contributed 28 percent of the GDP of the emirate of Dubai.

This is in addition to the important role it plays in supporting tourism, which accounts for more than 35 percent of the UAE›s GDP. It means half of the country›s GDP is generated from tourism and aviation put together.

We are not talking here about the profits generated by an air carrier or the revenues from an international airport. We are comparing what can be achieved from this sector through support services and ancillary activities, which was estimated by a member of the aviation council to be at SR100 billion annually.

I believe that the actual share will be much more than the figure mentioned above, in addition to the employment opportunities that come with the development of this industry.


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