We bring you a short summary of the 8th Arab Aviation Summit 2021 which was held in Al Hamra International Exhibition & Conference Centre, Ras Al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 21-22 March 2021.
Arab Aviation Summit is a prestigious regional event that seeks to enable better industry collaboration and identify new frontiers in travel and tourism. As aviation remains a huge driver of economic growth in the region, it is in a unique position to influence new winds of change enabling the growth of tourism in the region.
As the first in-person aviation event to be held since the pandemic, the eighth edition of the two-day summit brought together experts to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the industry, the aftermath, and the road to recovery.
The summary of the summit was the conclusion of a call for stronger collaboration in the Middle East while identifying the role of the tourism sector as a catalyst for post-pandemic growth, and also leveraging the potential of digital technologies to transform the industry by helping achieve higher operational efficiencies.
Some of the highlights:
- Raki Phillips, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority welcomed attendees, and stated that the theme of the summit, ‘Arab Aviation in the New Normal’, aptly describes the growing call for the resumption of travel across nations and how strong performance of the aviation sector is a significant driver of tourism.
- Intelak, UAE aviation and tourism startup accelerator & incubator, was presented at the summit. Intelak gives early and late stage start-ups access to programmes, mentorship from leading organisations and a community of like-minded individuals to launch, grow and scale their start-up that bring the latest aviation, travel and tourism solutions to the region.
- During the summit, Eddy Travels presented Kiwi.com as the main travel content provider for their new AI chat. Eddy Travels launched the new web application, with an integrated artificial intelligence (AI) travel assistant, that provides travelers with access to the widest flight search experience and great prices provided by Kiwi.com.
- Zimbabwe’s Gweru Airport and PLM Middle East announced a strategic partnership for Airport Development with a 176 million dollars investment plan. With a four-step approach to expand the partnership, PLM Middle East will also conduct a complete assessment of the airport including design concept as well as potential for upgrade and improvement. The two entities will also explore possibilities for global operators and international investment attraction for the overall development of the project. This partnership will support Zimbabwe in planning for post-pandemic travel and ensure that the Gweru Airport can upgrade the economic and social benefits to the local, national and global communities they serve.
- Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, predicted a positive outcome in the months to come and highlighted the need for industry and regulators to work together on contingency plans to address the current challenges and develop recovery plans for the entire aviation industry.
- Israel and UAE signed peace treaty last year but still awaiting to start full flights between the two countries as they are chasing full vaccination of people in both countries.
- Uri Sirkis, CEO of Israir, talked about how their took different approach in managing COVID-19 pandemic and managed to operate 70% of flight in 2020 in compare to 2019 with half of the employees working from home while the rest worked in the office or the airport. They also flew cargo, sports/national teams, repatriation flights, brought immigrants and performed air ambulance flights. Uri highlighted the need to adopt the business process.
- Israeli team presented the scope of impact of COVID-19 on Israeli tourism – with Assaf Goren from ISSTA (Issta Lines is a public traded tourism company) that had to relieve 70% of employees on unpaid leave and had to pay back the money to customers who booked holidays through their company. They used the opportunity to work on technology aspect of their company with website redesign, CRM, cloud services etc.
- The Vaayu Group demonstrated their company and how their approached COVID-19. Vaayu Group consists of several brands including MRO, FTO, Unmannaed Aerial Systems etc. They mentioned that liquidity is important and for that they made a great deal with their bank. The bank gave them toolkit to manage cashflow during COVID-19 pandemic while they used the situation to buy other organizations mainly in the United States and Singapore. The trust between them and the bank after years of working together, brought them the opportunity to make an arrangement that helped them through the crisis. Also they pinpointed the strength of Middle-East region with Islamic Financing Mechanism: Sukuk – the most popular financial instrument, but also other instruments.
- Egypt Air’s Chairman & CEO, Rushdi Zakaria’s said that the summit fostered a platform for discussion on the current situation of the aviation sector and reiterated that health and safety remain the number one priority.
Vaayu Group brands
Endorsed by Arab Governments and previously held in many Arab counties, the Arab Aviation Summit 2021 was hosted in collaboration with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) and supported by global industry partners such as Airbus, CFM, Air Arabia, Alpha Aviation Academy, and others. The summit will also be hosted in Ras Al Khaimah for the next two years.