More than 300 participants attended panel discussions and live presentations on various topics during the summit .
Sajjad Ahmad, Gulf Today
The eighth Arab Aviation Summit (AAS), concluded on a positive and optimistic note with industry stakeholders unanimous in their view of a faster recovery of the industry.
Experts and participants urged stronger cooperation to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and drive the growth of aviation sector.
The region’s leading aviation and tourism industry event held on March21 and 22 at Al Hamra International Exhibition & Conference Centre, Ras Al Khaimah.
Stakeholders underlined that the need of the hour is to foster stronger collaboration to enhance confidence among the public and to work towards impactful strategies that will support the aviation sector’s revival.
Experts highlighted the role of the tourism sector as a catalyst for post-pandemic growth, and also called for leveraging the potential of digital technologies to transform the industry by helping achieve higher operational efficiencies. They urged on the need for unified travel guidelines to support the industry, and expressed optimism that with more vaccinations being administered, there will be greater confidence among the public to travel.
The 2021 Arab Aviation Summit was the first in-person aviation event to be held since the pandemic, and was organised by following all safety protocols, sending a strong message of confidence for the industry and the travel community.
Under the theme, ‘Arab Aviation in the New Normal’, the eighth edition of the summit brought industry experts from around the world to discuss diverse topics covering the aviation sector.
The first day witnessed a series of workshops and forums focusing on airport sustainability, investment trends and the importance of disruptive models of starts-ups such as Intelak, an aviation and travel incubator. The second day of the summit featured several panel discussions, with experts expressing confidence on the aviation industry’s recovery from the current crisis following the pandemic.
More than 300 participants attended the insightful panel discussions and live presentations on topics such as airline strategies to navigate through the new normal, sustainability outlook, out-manoeuvring uncertainty in a new era of travel, tourism as catalyst for a post-pandemic economic growth and job creation in the new reality.
Raki Phillips, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority welcomed attendees, and stated that the theme of the summit, ‘Arab Aviation in the New Normal’, aptly describes the growing call for the resumption of travel across nations and how strong performance of the aviation sector is a significant driver of tourism.
Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, predicted a positive outcome in the months to come and highlighted the need for industry and regulators to work together on contingency plans to address the current challenges and develop recovery plans for the entire aviation industry.
Egypt Air’s Chairman & CEO, Rushdi Zakaria’s said that the summit fostered a platform for discussion on the current situation of the aviation sector and reiterated that health and safety remain the number one priority.
Mikail Houari, President Airbus, Africa Middle East, shared insights on how the airline sector has always remained resilient and has found ways to recover even stronger particularly in the Middle East region.
Abdul Wahab Teffaha, Secretary General of Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO), shed light on the Arab region’s ability and infrastructure for quicker recovery, adding that the region’s business growth and tourism potential will support the industry. He emphasised the importance of strong alliances between all industry players to help the aviation industry emerge from this crisis.
Kamil Al-Awadhi, Regional Vice President of Africa and the Middle East, IATA, was positive about the industry’s recovery specially given how countries are leading the way with vaccination programmes. He said governments worldwide need to come together with a united front for a fast-track road to recovery.
Sunil John, President – Middle East of BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said the aviation sector’s current challenges can’t be addressed by airlines, airports, or tour operators alone but “global organisations such as IATA that must bring a commonality of approach and an industry-wide response regarding the safety and vaccine protocols to benefit the sector.”
Linus Benjamin Bauer, Founder & Managing Director of Bauer Aviation Consultancy, said the decline in business travel was a key challenge, while adding that the opportunities in the Middle East were tremendous, leading to increased appetite for aviation services.
Peter Morris, Chief Economist at Flight Ascend Consultancy, said the success of the industry calls for commercial solutions. “Only business models that meet the needs of customers will be successful. You cannot force people to travel and there are different sets of parameters for business and leisure.”