IATA is again pleading for reform of Middle Eastern airspace to save costs, warning that the region's airlines are "not immune" to the financial downturn.

It says carriers are set to lose $200 million through a slowdown in traffic growth this year.

"In this environment every cent counts and both aviation and the environment can no longer afford a wasteful air traffic control system," said IATA's Middle East North Africa regional vice-president, Majdi Sabri, speaking at the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation conference in Jeddah.

Last year the Arab Air Carriers Organisation vowed to press governments to study creation of more efficient air routes.

Sabri says a "coherent" regional approach to air traffic management is necessary, adding: "That means looking beyond national borders to the region-wide implementation of en route airspace and terminal control areas based on performance-based navigation.

"It calls for investment in improved aeronautical information management and communications infrastructure, and it means making better use of aircraft and air traffic management technology to achieve an airspace structure that is based on user-preferred flight paths."

IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani has previously claimed that the Middle Eastern region could achieve a three-fold increase in capacity through airspace redesign.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news