The first Future Aviation Forum held in Riyadh brought together approximately 120 speakers and more than 2,000 participants, all from the global aviation industry. An industry emerging from the very difficult years following the pandemic.
“This forum is an opportunity for leaders and all players in this industry,” said at the event, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, Minister of Transport and Logistics Services of Saudi Arabia, “To come together to discuss common issues about the current and imminent challenges we all face to get the sector back to normal. It’s also about discussing long-term issues,” he said. he continued, “such as sustainable development, innovation and new advances in technology.”
Inform travelers about the health framework
A recent survey, conducted by YouGov in a series of countries, showed that two-thirds of respondents chose not to travel in 2021. According to the same study, 46% of those living in Gulf countries, 32 % of Americans and 40 % of Italians and Britons said they would not fly in 2022 because of confusing air travel health regulations.
At the forum, the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia (GACA) announced its strategy to clarify travel conditions for passengers, companies and government: the “Air Travel Harmonization Policy” was developed in collaboration with United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). A clear online resource with admission requirements will be provided to participating countries.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how divided the world is,” said Mohammed Al Khuraisi, vice-president of the Strategy and Business Intelligence department within GACA during the forum. “Families have been separated, people have stopped traveling and airports and borders have been closed: this has made us aware of the need for better international cooperation. We need to integrate air transport requirements, we need to clarify how we will deal with such a crisis if it happens again in the future, “ he pointed out.
One concern shared by Jean-Marc Bourreau, partner of Consulum Aviation: “When people are stressed or worried, it’s clear they’re not traveling. We need to think about passengers and what we need to do to make them feel confident again and start traveling again,” he said. he insisted.
Sustainable innovations, but not just that
Another theme in the three main discussed at the Forum: sustainable development. Businesses in the sector and airlines have shown their willingness to invest in innovations to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment.
“The aerospace industry cannot continue to rely on the past, it must look to the future and sustainability is a necessity,” assured during the forum, Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of the ICAO Council. “We must continue the decarbonization process with the clear goal of establishing a decarbonization index in 20 or 30 years,” he said. he indicated.
To achieve this, we must bet on change, but by making the right choices according to Henrik Hololei, Director General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission. “Green fuels are clearly the future of aeronautics, they are a big part of the solution; but what kind of green fuels are we talking about?” he says. “If aeronautics doesn’t become more sustainable, it won’t be allowed to grow in the future,” he warned before adding: “I believe everyone in this industry is starting to realize this and is doing more in this area.”
Continuity of tourism
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), these two sectors are expected to generate 233 billion euros in revenue in the Middle East this year.
Saudi Arabia, for its part, has announced that it wants to increase the number of connections from the Kingdom to serve 250 destinations and reach a market of 330 million passengers, but also to launch a new national airline .
“Our approach has very ambitious goals,” said Mohammed Al Khuraisi, vice-president within GACA, “such as encouraging tourism and implementing national transportation and logistics strategies. It aims to triple the number of passengers by 2030, “ he indicated. “To achieve this, we need to increase capacity by expanding our current flag carriers, inviting more of their foreign counterparts to connect with the Kingdom, and launching new flag carriers. “
Saudi Arabia is showing its ambitions as it also intends to benefit from the recovery of the tourism market.