Regional-airline operators in the Middle East will have to persuade governments in the area to liberalise their air service agreements, cut bureaucracy and ease travel restrictions if the industry is to grow, according to Mike Ambrose, the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) director-general.

Ambrose was in Dubai to gather support for the development of regional services. "It's not a case of if the industry develops in this part of the world, but of when," he says.

The growth potential was illustrated by the presence of exhibitors such as British Aerospace Asset Management, Embraer, Fairchild Dornier, IPTN and Raytheon.

To illustrate the case for regional services, the ERA boss compared the city pair of Amman and Alexandria with Amsterdam and Stuttgart. Population and distances are similar, but the difference is that the European cities have 41 direct flights a week, while the Middle East pair has none.

Change may be close, as interest shows signs of growing. Royal Wings Airlines of Jordan has just become a member of ERA, joining Orca of Egypt as the only Middle Eastern affiliate members.

Source: Flight International