Dubai: Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Emirates Airlines, said Wednesday that the Middle East will become a central hub for the global aviation industry and that there were big opportunities for plane maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies.
The sheikh was delivering the keynote speech at the opening of the inaugural MRO Middle East Conference and Exhibition. He is also the president of Dubai's Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Dubai Airports.
Al Maktoum forecast rapid expansion of regional MRO facilities saying the industry had struggled to keep pace with the huge growth seen in the region's commercial airlines and business jet operators. Many aircraft, he said, were forced to be sent to Europe for the smallest of repairs.
"In government, we have been doing all we can to help. With the building of Dubai World Central, we have a world-class airport with the space and commitment to allow third parties the opportunity to provide services, to bring parts, to launch repair shops and generally provide aircraft-on-ground support as well as developing the heavier maintenance facilities.
"Work is also underway at major international airports in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Muscat and in Kuwait, as well as at regional airports in the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Egypt," he said.
"As these are built, many more airlines will take advantage of our location at the cross roads of the world. From freight to premium passengers, this is a vital hub for the world transport networks; and the need to have not just adequate, but world class, facilities to assist the operators, is beyond question."
It is estimated that twenty-five per cent of the world's new passenger jets will head for the Middle East.
The sheikh also said that the UAE was actively working to develop a knowledge-based aviation workforce in a bid to establish itself as a global aviation hub. "Training and growing our own engineers is a vital strand in our strategy to become this centre of excellence for the world aviation market, whether that be in operation or in service support."