Ground Support Worldwide

DEC 2016 JAN 2017

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16 GROUND SUPPORT WORLDWIDE DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 INTERNATIONAL By Mario Pierobon Geopolitical instability in the Middle East has influenced the aircraft ground handling industry in the region. However, there may be reason for optimism moving forward. Overcoming Recent Turmoil D uring the past few years, the Middle East region, as well as parts of North Africa, has gone through a significant deal of geopolitical instability. Some governments have been overthrown and some countries, namely Syria, are the theatres of war. Prior to the more recent geopolitical issues, the aviation and the aircraft ground handling indus- tries had been booming. In this month's regional update, we will discuss the challenges of the handling business in the context of geopolitical instability in the Middle East; how authorities and service providers have responded and are respond- ing to it; and how the future looks for the business. The recent geopolitical issues in the Middle East have had an impact on the handling business from a commercial point of view. "Clearly, in countries where there is active conflict or major instability and related security concerns, the major airports have been subject to significant declines in activity. Many international carriers are – rightly – reluctant to operate in this environment. The knock on commercial effect on the ground service provider is self-evident. In the major Middle Eastern hubs - Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha - traffic growth remains robust, driven pri- marily by the inexorable expansion of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways", says Jon Conway, a consultant with several years of experience in the aircraft ground handling business in the region. "It is worth remembering perhaps that most Middle Eastern airports operate on a sole ground handler model," he continues. "Arguably the com- mercial - and related business - implications are rather different than a multiple handler compet- itive scenario, in which a decline in overall air-

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