Gulf states should look to Europe for air traffic management lessons

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The launch of The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi earlier in the year has markedly upped the standard of reporting in the Gulf region. Today there’s a good story about the future of air traffic management in a part of the world destined for extraordinary traffic growth. If you’re an airline it’s a worrying one. The new director general of Dubai’s General Civil Aviation Authority -Saif Mohammed al Suwaidi – has gone on record saying Dubai’s airspaceis already too congested, but that a proposed plan for a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC)-wide air traffic control system is not the way forward.

No?I’m not suggesting that one follows the other as a matter ofinevitability, but I do think the GCC nations have a literallyonce-in-a-lifetime opportunity not to replicate the ghastly situationthat Europe and parts of Asia have managed to create.

The irony of Europe wrestling with the all-important Single European Skyprogramme while the Gulf states recreate exactly the same problem ispretty horrible. Still, Al Suwaidi is a long-time air force man who’snew in the job, and he has time to learn. But if the current forecastsfor Gulf traffic are even nearly correct, not much time.

A fact-finding trip to Brussels is my recommendation.

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