The Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) convened its 48th AGM today in Jeddah under the Chairmanship of H.E Eng. Saleh N. Al Jasser/ Director General of Saudia. The AGM was held under the High Patronage of HRH Prince Khalid Al Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Governor of Makkah Region.
The AGM gathered CEOs of AACO member airlines, AACO partner airlines and industry partners from aircraft and engine manufacturers, Global Distribution Systems (GDSs), IT providers and other specialized companies relevant to the Arab air transport industry. The AGM also welcomed the Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and a number of regional airline associations, in addition to a number of aviation experts, where the number of delegates surpassed 300.
Arab Air Transport Statistics in 2014
Delegates received AACO’s Annual Report, which reflects the yearly harvest of AACO’s work during the past term and highlights the latest developments and challenges at industry level in addition to the achievements of AACO joint projects over the past year. The delegates also received a copy of the Arab Air Transport Statistics publication (AATS) covering 2014 data, in addition to a special report on the evolution of the Arab airlines over the past 50 years on the occasion of AACO’s 50th anniversary. Major statistics included in AATS were as follows:
- The Arab air transport market grew by 9.7% in 2014 compared to 2013, reaching 172 million passengers.
- Passenger numbers using Arab airports in 2014 increased by 9.3% to reach around 299.3 million passengers.
- Cargo movement at Arab airports increased by 9.3% in 2014 reaching 7.31 million tons of cargo.
- AACO members served 451 destinations in 127 countries with 3,507 average daily flights, offering 710,159 daily seats on 1,117 aircraft in 2014.
- AACO members’ operating revenues increased by 4.4% in 2014 to record USD 39.2 billion (12 reporting member airlines).
- AACO members carried more than 176.3 million passengers in 2014 (an increase of 9.7% compared to 2013) and 5.3 million tons of cargo (an increase of 9.2% compared to 2013).
Tribute to Mr. Mohamed Salah Boultif
At the start of the AGM sessions, the AGM paid tribute to Mr. Mohamed Salah Boultif/ Former President & Chief Executive Officer of Air Algérie. During his tenure in Air Algerie, Mr. Boultif was elected as a member of the Executive Committee in 2011, and Chairman of AACO AGM in 2012 where he contributed in strengthening and supporting AACO’s work.
AACO Secretary General Report
AACO Secretary General presented his report on the state of the Arab air transport where he showed the evolvement and the journey of the Arab airlines over the past 50 years and the major catalysts that made this journey and the development of air transport successful and possible. The Secretary General cited aircraft and engine technology advancements, liberalization, and infrastructure development in airport and airspace as the major drivers for the progress of air transport over the past 50 years. Mr. Teffaha also highlighted some numbers showing the development of the Arab air transport over the past 10 years and underlined the possible hindrances to the future growth of air transport, mainly bringing focus to the following:
- Protectionism: The Secretary General highlighted that open skies policies have benefited the consumer with lower travel prices, more travel options and a better service. Such policies have also brought benefits to the economy by enhancing trade and creating job opportunities. Airlines also became more competitive and improved their services as a result of open skies. Going back to protectionism will be counterproductive and would definitely not benefit the consumer or the airlines or the development of the economy.
- Lack of Development of Infrastructure: The Secretary General praised the efforts of Arab governments in developing airports of the region; however, he mentioned that the development of aerospace management needs to be in tandem with the development of airports. The Secretary General stressed AACO’s work in this area that is cooperating with ACAC, ICAO, IATA, CANSO and relevant Arab governments to resolve aerospace management issues, whereby the plan set by all stakeholders will be achieved by 2018 to renew air traffic management systems, enhance civil/military coordination and to come out with a regional coordination framework for traffic flow.
- Taxes and Charges: The Secretary General highlighted that the right policy towards a developing economic environment and a mounting tourism sector is not through heavy taxations on one of the major drivers of such development i.e. the air transport sector.
- Counterproductive Regulations: The Secretary General brought focus to how some governments are approaching unilaterally areas such as the environment and consumer protection and how that approach has created conflict with other states. He also cited AACO’s work on both issues where in the environment area, AACO is working with all stakeholders to reach a global solution for dealing with aviation emissions under ICAO, and in the consumer protection area AACO, through its relevant working group, developed a template document that gathers best practices in giving consumers their rights in line with IATA and ICAO principles, although providing the consumer with best services is indeed part and parcel of the airlines’ product offering.
The Secretary General also highlighted the major incidents that are transforming the global work on aviation safety and security being the downing of MH17 and the disappearance of MH370. AACO is cooperating with all industry stakeholders to improve the tracking of aircraft and will be working on this area with SITA and others following an action plan set by AACO and relevant executives of member airlines with stakeholders at the 2015 Technical forum held earlier in November. AACO has also launched an initiative, following a resolution by AACOs 47th AGM, that would enhance the awareness between member airlines on risk assessment of air routes. This initiative has proven useful on many occasions over the past year.
The Secretary General welcomed two new member airlines of AACO this year: Mauritania Airlines International and Badr Airlines that have become active members of AACO following AACO’s Executive Committee approval earlier this year.
Speech by the Director General of ACAC
Eng. Mohamed Sherif, Director General of the Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC), presented a keynote address about the common issues between AACO and ACAC in the fields of aeropolitics, air safety and security, environment, and air navigation issues and taxes, whereby the two organizations have cooperated throughout the years in order to achieve benefits in these areas to the Arab air transport industry.
Speech by the IATA Director General
Mr. Tony Tyler, IATA Director General gave a keynote address to the AGM focusing on safety, air traffic management, and smarter regulations in the areas of liberalization, passenger rights, security, taxation and other regulations.
Four Strategic Resolutions by AACO 48th AGM
The second working session was dedicated to AACO members where they discussed the Executive Committee report which covered strategic issues in addition to AACO’s financial and administrative issues.
Based on the recommendations of the Executive Committee, AACO’s AGM adopted four strategic resolutions as follows:
Aviation and the Environment: AACO 48th AGM stressed the importance of adopting a number of principles when governments of the world are addressing aviation’s impact on the environment. The principles can be found in the full resolution attached to this press release.
The AGM also called upon the Arab Civil Aviation Commission to coordinate, constitute and advocate an Arab position that takes into account the interests of the Arab airlines and to hold coordination meetings in order to ensure that, and mandated the Secretary General and the Environmental Policy Group to work closely with the Arab Civil Aviation Commission and to continue following up this matter in coordination with IATA and other regional and international entities, and to report back to the Executive Committee regarding any developments for guidance.
Full Resolution is attached to this press release.
Passenger Rights: AACO 48th AGM called upon ICAO to further work on the principles developed by the ICAO ATRP and adopted by the ICAO Council to include material on avoiding extraterritoriality and ensuring compatibility between passenger rights regimes. The AGM also called upon Arab states to look into the Consumer Protection Safety Nets and Caveats template (that was developed by AACO AWG Consumer Protection subgroup), when developing passenger rights regimes. This document gathers best practices of airlines in giving passengers their rights and could be used as relevant guidance to governments if they wish to develop passenger rights regimes. The document is based on ICAO and IATA principles on consumer protection.
The template is attached to this press release along with the full resolution on consumer protection.
Air Traffic Management and Airspace Capacity in the Arab World: AACO 48th AGM called upon all concerned states to join the Middle East ATM Enhancement Programme, reiterated the importance of coordination between Arab governments with regards to airspace infrastructure developments; and directed AACO to coordinate with states, airlines and with international and regional associations on the technical level to identify the priorities of the region with regards to ATM and airspace capacity, and to work with heads of CAAs, airlines and associations to raise those priorities to governments especially in areas that require coordination between civil and military aviation authorities.
More details and the full resolution are attached to this press release.
EU External Aviation Policy: AACO AGM called upon the European Union to place the highest possible priority to the development of infrastructure in Europe and the unification of the European aerospace. The AGM also highlighted that the EU aviation package should support global efforts under ICAO umbrella in areas such as consumer protection, dealing with aviation emissions, and security and safety standards.
In addition, the AGM called upon the European Union to recognize in the aviation package the added value that competition brings to the market place and called upon the Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC) and the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) to engage with the European Commission in order to highlight the principles that have been stipulated above.
The full resolution is attached to this press release.
Panel Discussion on how will the aviation landscape evolve in the next 50 years
The Third Working Session, as usual, gathered all invitees of AACO AGM and witnessed the “Joint Aviation Forum”, which is a panel discussion that was moderated this year by Mr. Richard Quest, CNN Anchor and Correspondent. The Joint Aviation Forum featured a session on “Towards the Diamond Jubilee.. How will the aviation landscape evolve?” Participants in this discussion were as follows:
- Mr. Mohamad A. El-Hout /Chairman & Director General/ Middle East Airlines
- Mr. Paul Byrne / Chief Executive Officer/ flynas
- Mr. Ahmed Aly/ Chief Executive Officer/ Nile Air
- Mr. Adel Al Redha/ EVP and Chief Operations Officer / Emirates Airline
- Mr. Ahmed Al Jallaf/ Assistant Director General of Air Navigation Services/ UAE GCAA
The Golden Jubilee
AACO 48th AGM coincided with the 50 years anniversary of AACO. In addition to including valuable information and statistics on the 50 years journey of the Arab airlines, Arab air transport industry, and AACO in AACO’s various AGM publications and in the report delivered by AACO Secretary General this morning, AACO AGM received a special presentation by Prof. Geoffrey Lipman, Founder & Creative Disruption Architect of Green Growth & Travelism Institute, on the future of Arab airlines and their opportunities and challenges. In addition, Mr. Ahmed Al Jallaf, Assistant Director General of Air Navigation Services, UAE GCAA & Chairman of MAEP gave input on a very important topic that requires the attention of all stakeholders and that would play a major role in dictating the future of air transport in the region; which is aerospace management.
The delegates of the AGM also received a special publication prepared by The Times Group/ Arabian Aerospace magazine, in cooperation with AACO, citing special words by key people in AACO’s history and present time, information on the Arab air transport industry, valuable statistics and data of the 50 years journey, and information on AACO’s member airlines and Arab air transport industry as a whole.
Over the past year AACO redesigned its logo which was approved by AACO’s 47th AGM and accordingly totally refurbished its website which was launched on 28 August 2015 coinciding with the same date that AACO was established 50 years ago (on 28 August 1965).
Attached to this press release is data on the 50 years journey of AACO member airlines and the Arab air transport sector.
Closing of the AGM
As the AGM came to a close, AACO members thanked HRH Prince Khaled Al Faisal for opening the AGM and the 48th AGM Chairman, H.E Eng. Saleh N. Al Jasser, for leading this event and for the generous hospitality of Saudia for all delegates of this event. Moreover, the AGM accepted with gratitude the invitation of Mr. Driss Benhima, Chairman & CEO of Royal Air Maroc to host the forthcoming AACO AGM in Morocco on 8-10 November 2016, and the invitation of Mr. Adel Ali, Group CEO of Air Arabia to host the 50th AGM in Sharjah in 2017.