Middle East Survey 2015

Air Traffic Management is proud to present the first ever ATM Middle East Survey in association with aviation consultancy Helios whose Alan Corner believes that with growing consensus on how to address its airspace issues, the Middle East is finding the resolve to make things happen

When Air Traffic Management magazine asked us to collaborate on the first Middle East ATM Survey the answer was easy. If only all the answers in our industry were!

Helios has been working in the region for over five years and has had a permanent base in Dubai for almost three years. Our understanding of the key issues and the relationships we have developed provided a unique opportunity to bring together some of the region’s high profile leaders from across aviation to get their views on the challenges and opportunities in the ATM domain.

Our first step was to compile a range of questions that would draw out the hot topics and the proposed solutions. We wanted to highlight the Middle East perspective as well as some of the lesser known challenges stakeholders face. The final list covered innovation, airspace, safety, economics, collaboration, military, environment, regulation, value-for-money, short term priorities and longer term expectations.

We then extended the invitations to participate, and started to gather the responses. Most of those invited to participate accepted our invitation. The expert panel who provided their responses in time for publication includes regulators, air navigation service providers, trade associations, airlines and international agencies.


The Middle East is a region of huge contrast. A common perception is of wealthy oil States glistening new airports, luxury high rises and sparkling seas.

Whilst these realities do exist, they do not apply to all States. Only three Middle Eastern countries are in the top 30 ranked by GDP per capita according to the World Bank. So the ability to invest in multi-million dollar projects exists in pockets, rather than in the region as a whole. The situation is exacerbated by long running geo-political conflicts, which have the effect of holding back regional collaboration as well as investor confidence.

The latest figures from Oxford Economics estimate that in the Middle East, two million jobs and around $116 billion of GDP are supported by aviation. Traffic is growing at 10 per cent this year, and the prospects for the future look good. However, the big dollar investments have been mostly in high profile and very visible infrastructure – airports and airplanes, rather than the less visible, but equally vital air traffic management (ATM) and airspace infrastructure which many believe is rapidly becoming a constraint to further growth.

This investment disparity is not unique to the Middle East. All over the world, ATM is often overlooked in favour of its more glamorous airports and airlines. So when we combine the need for major investment in ‘invisible’ infrastructure (airspace) and service (ATM) with wide economic disparity and geo-political instability, it is perhaps not surprising that the region is still facing challenges.

However, with growing consensus on the nature of the problem, and the solutions to address it, perhaps the moment has come when States will find the resolve and the funds to make something happen. What does our expert panel think?

This year’s participants are:

Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO)

Abdul Wahab TeffahaAbdul Wahab Teffaha, Secretary General


Hicham BennaniHicham Bennani, Air Navigation and Safety Expert


Mohammed Ali AhmedMohammed Ali Ahmed, director of air navigation and civil aviation affairs

Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO)

Jeff PooleJeff Poole, Director General


Philippe MerloPhilippe Merlo, director, ATM

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Teri BristolTeri Bristol, Chief Operating Officer


Ahmed Al JallafAhmed Al Jallaf, Assistant Director General for Air Navigation Services


Mohamed KhonjiMohamed Khonji, MID Regional Director

Serco Middle East

Peter MohringPeter Mohring, Managing Director, Aviation

Survey Questions:


Regional collaboration

Aviation as an economic enabler

Value for money


Short term priorities


A look into the future




The Middle East Survey 2015 is part of the Middle East Special Report which appears in the Issue 3, 2015 of Air Traffic Management.

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