- Posted June 2, 2014 by
United Arab Emirates
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Abu Dhabi Airports Chairman on the growth of aviation & aerospace in Abu Dhabi
As an airport operating company focused on delivering aviation infrastructure to the capital, how does Abu Dhabi Airports fit in with all the other elements that encompass Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030?
AL MANSOORI: Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 is focused on diversifying the economy away from oil. It has a concentration on various industries and enablers. One of the enablers is the aviation sector and the airports. That's why Abu Dhabi Airports, and its mega-projects that are going on currently, will be one of the enablers that enable the government to achieve its strategic and economic vision by 2030.
What is the latest update with regard to Abu Dhabi Airport Business City, the first airport free-zone in Abu Dhabi?
AL MANSOORI: Abu Dhabi Airport Business City, the master plan has been redone to really divide the Business City or the free zone into specialized clusters. The free zone of course offers free ownership to businesses, business owners, but also as you are aware it offers the taxation benefits. So it's really a business-oriented zone. The location, its proximity from Kizad and the airport, and of course to the city, gives good benefits. So commercially, it's viable. We are very excited that businesses have been setting up some light industry within the free zone, and we look forward to developing our relations with those entities.
Abu Dhabi Airports established the Gulf Centre for Aviation Studies (GCAS) in 2009. How has this training centre impacted Abu Dhabi’s standing among global aviation hubs? Do you see any potential to expand training and auxiliary facilities going forward?
AL MANSOORI: GCAS was established in 2009. It offers an entrance into the airport environment and working environment. It has positioned Abu Dhabi as an aviation attraction hub. GCAS is recognized by the ACI as a gold member and is really recognised by the various international organisations such as IATA, the GCA here locally, and ICAO. It is a great entrance. It's a great institute to give those who are interested in aviation industry, to give them knowledge, enabling them to enter into the world of aviation. The institute has gained a very strong reputation. Not just here in the UAE actually, but worldwide. So we're very committed to promoting the institute, GCAS. With our strategy at Abu Dhabi Airports, GCAS is really one of the enablers for our employees and the rest of the population in the region and worldwide.
Its location is at Al Bateen Executive Airport, a private airport within the city. In the future we are planning to relocate this institute to the new terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport location, and I'm sure because of its growth we will make sure the size really grows parallel with that. The demand is there. So we'll make sure the institute caters to those who want to really enter, to gain knowledge, and get certified and get ready for the very exciting aviation sector.
GCAS started as a local entity and it was a beta greenfield idea and it has expanded and grown very quickly. We welcome our students from all over the world. We have a very exciting environment here in Abu Dhabi and the Emirates in general. So our students would be able to attend a good institute and live in a very lively environment, where the aviation sector has grown very strongly.
How do you see Abu Dhabi Airport’s position on the international stage evolving going forward? Do you have any plans or ambition to expand operations outside Abu Dhabi?
AL MANSOORI: In the short term, we are really focused on the project itself, the mega project, the MTB, the new terminal. Parallel to that, we have engaged in two different opportunities that we are looking at now. Whenever and wherever it is viable and economical for us to really go for such opportunities, we will do that. Currently, we have relationships with two or three service providers in airports globally. We are speaking to them around how to really engage and help them and maybe enter into a management agreement. That is the short term.
But in the long term our vision is to go global. We have good experience in managing airports. The airports are efficient. We have won many awards from the ACI and that experience could be really used to further help others, and to expand our brand and make the travel experience good for everyone.
How does having a project such as the Midfield Terminal Complex (MTC) impact the perception of Abu Dhabi Airports capabilities outside the UAE?
AL MANSOORI: When we go abroad and communicate with service providers of airport services, we really show them and tell them about the project, its size, that it caters to this many passengers a year. They would hear that and they've seen it through the media, but once they come and see the project in reality and the sheer size of the project, they get really excited. They do understand that such a project that is handled by the management of Abu Dhabi Airports and our team gives them confidence that such a company handling such a project can really manage an airport and can add value to their respective airports.
What does a growing aerospace industry mean for Abu Dhabi Airports?
AL MANSOORI: The aerospace industry has experienced a compounded or exponential growth rate in the past few years and we expect that to continue in the future. For example the passenger growth in Abu Dhabi Airports was about fifteen percent, fourteen and a half. So the aviation industry itself, by the recent growth rate, can give an indication that the industry is really critical. It is one of the enablers of the economy in the future. For example, at Al Ain Airport we have Mubadala and they've set up a very efficient production facility to cater for some of the Airbus demands and Boeing. So the industries are growing, the aviation industry is very exciting in this region, and we are part of that. And our strategy is to really cater and grow along these lines.