Arab Aviation Summit concludes with commitment to sustainable transformation

Dec 10 2017

The 7th Arab Aviation Summit concluded successfully last week with more than 200 industry participants from 15 Arab countries attending the summit under the theme: “Time to Transform: Addressing sustainability challenges and opportunities for the regional aviation sector”.

Adel Al Ali, Arab Aviation Summit Chairperson and Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia, said: “There is no escaping the fact that our industry is affected by geo-political changes in the region. The status quo is no longer an option if the objective is commercial viability. Technology and travel habits for current and future travellers, millennials for example, is disrupting the norm but it is our future business. There is no better example to learn from than the success of Dubai and growth will not happen from protectionism but from addressing the challenges we face.”

Panelists of the first discussion entitled “The Pan-Arab air travel market - between growth and change”, included Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai; Stefan Pichler, CEO of Royal Jordanian; Richard Carcaillet, Senior Director, Airbus; and Abdul Wahab Teffaha, Secretary General, Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO). The panellists stressed the importance of opening up the regional aviation markets, open skies and more leadership roles for women. They also agreed that regional governments need to learn from the openness of Dubai to continue being the fastest growing aviation market in the world.

The second-panel discussion, entitled “Arab MRO priorities and trends shaping the sector”, saw the participation of Eoghan O’ Driscoll, Chief Technical Officer of Dubai Aerospace Enterprises; Jeff Wilkinson, CEO of Joramco; Captain Mohammed Al-Suwaidi, Founder of VCATI; and Ahmed Qinawi, General Manager of MSI Aircraft Maintenance. The panellists agreed that the regional MRO sector is a vital part of the boom that the aviation industry has witnessed during recent years and promised to stay so in future. The Middle East’s Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) market is growing at a faster pace as compared to the global average and is forecast to effectively double by 2025, rising at 7.4 percent per annum to reach USD 10.2 billion over the next decade.

Speaking about “Aviation as a key driver for sustainable development and how Arab consumer spending habits & trends are shaping the industry”, Bikram Pattanaik, Sr. Managing Consultant, Global Products and Solution, MasterCard, said: "Service revenue models will be reclaimed by travel leaders successfully focused on providing a seamless and end-to-end experience. A perfect storm is brewing, creating opportunities for disruption and new entrants have already emerged. Traditional travel loyalty programs are at risk of being disrupted as price, and increased convenience are not enough to create real brand loyalty; personalisation is now a must have, and airlines are vulnerable to disruption by new travel leaders who can deliver more. Travel leaders of the future will strike an emotional chord where people actively seek them out, by becoming lifestyle brands.”

The panel discussion on ‘How travel & tourism is changing? Technology & consumer trends and their impact on the Arab travel sector’, was participated in by Matthew Powell, Regional Managing Director for Middle East & South Asia of Travelport; Dean Wicks, Chief Flight Officer of Wego; Alex Abbott, Vice President ECEMEA, Oracle; and Bikram Pattanaik of MasterCard. They said that customers today want their responses served faster and data and content is key to achieving that. They also said that the travel agent will not disappear but their role may change and even with machine learning, there will be room in the market for everyone.

The closing panel featured key bloggers and influencers to discuss the impact of social media on the future of Arab travel and tourism and featured Michelle Karam, travel blogger and influencer Sam Chui, aviation blogger and social influencer at SamChui.com; and Capt. Feras, a Kuwaiti pilot and social media influencer who is passionate about educating people about aviation.