Air Traffic Capacity Constraints Threaten Aviation Growth

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths has said that air traffic capacity constraints pose the single largest threat to economic and aviation growth.
Mr Griffiths made the speculations in a speech to air traffic management executives at the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation’s (CANSO) annual general meeting, which was held in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 12, 2011.
“In Dubai, aircraft movements are now five times more numerous than 25 years ago, growing from 63,000 in 1985 to over 307,000 in 2010.  By 2020, aircraft movements will surpass 560,000 and passenger numbers will climb to 98.5 million,” Mr Griffiths said.  “The airspace is currently not configured to support the growth.  We have an outdated route structure, fragmented airspace and there is a lack of effective coordination on a regional scale.”
Traffic growth is expected to generate significant economic expansion.  According to the results of a recent study by Oxford Economics, by 2020 aviation is projected to support 373,000 jobs and $45.4 billion in economic activity in Dubai, UAE, alone.
Airlines and airports across the Middle East are already investing heavily in aircraft and infrastructure expansion.
Mr Griffiths said: “The biggest strategic threat to the growth of aviation is in the air.  There are several root causes for this malaise.  The external factors start with nationalism and politics getting in the way of logic.  Another is an outdated regulatory environment which is not supporting the new order of aviation where airspace is viewed as a global commodity, not a local product.  Finally, airspace management is not properly integrated.”
Mr Griffiths also believes that internal factors like a lack of strategic planning and an absence of long term commitment affect aviation growth.
Dubai Airports has several plans to expand airspace capacity over the next decade, including redesigning route structures and making better use of technologies.  It is also leading a joint Middle East Airspace Study to optimise the region’s airspace structure.
Mr Griffiths also said: “There is a critical gap between politics and operations at both government and operating levels. We have to recognise that working together is the only way forward.”