• Policy


Airspace Capacity Challenges in the Region

With the fast growth in aircraft movements in the region, which is mostly fueled by the expansion of Arab airlines, and which is expected to more than double in the coming fifteen years, come airspace capacity challenges.


There have been several national developments on that front in the region, such as the reforms in Oman, the UAE Airspace Restructuring Project, the developments in Saudi Arabia and specifically the Empty Quarter area, and others; however, the region still suffers from several deficiencies in its airspace management (ATM) and capacity, mainly the fragmentation of airspace due to the multitude of military restricted no-fly zones which represent more than 50% of the available airspace, and the concentration of traffic on the existing routes with minor consideration to new traffic flaws.


Urgent Need for Airspace Infrastructure Reform

The development of Arab airports into state-of-the-art facilities is definitely one of the important attributes of air transport in the Arab world. However, if this development is not coupled with the development of the airspace infrastructure (ATM and airspace capacity), then the growing role of the Arab air transport sector as a catalyst for economic development will be hindered. AACO considers the improvement of airspace infrastructure in the region a top priority. For that, AACO is working hand in hand with ACAO, ICAO, IATA, CANSO and most importantly states in order to resolve ATM deficiencies, increase airspace capacity and alleviate bottlenecks from the region through three major milestones:

  • Renovation of air traffic systems and equipment where required.
  • Increase coordination on national level with military authorities for Flexible Use of Airspace by civil aviation when national security does not require it to be limited to military use.
  • Formulation and implementation of a regional / sub - regional Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM).


A Need for Efficient and Effective Use of Airspace

Airspace is a scarce and finite resource that needs to be fully utilized. Expanding the available airspace to civil aviation through the review of the current ATS route network and the implementation of operational concepts that support airspace optimization and availability (such as Flexible Use of Airspace – FUA and Performance Based Navigation – PBN) are vital for the sustainability of air transport.

In addition, individual national developments in ATM and airspace capacity are not enough on their own to deliver the sought results of seamless operations, enhanced safety and sustainability; harmonization, integration and collaboration among aviation stakeholders are essential to realize the full potential of national projects in air and ground infrastructures.


Regional Efforts

All stakeholders acknowledge the airspace infrastructure challenges in the region and the need to collaborate in order to resolve them under the umbrella of ICAO. AACO 49th AGM recognized the enhanced spirit of collaboration in the region, and commended ICAO for becoming a regional platform for collaboration between all stakeholders. In addition, AACO 49th AGM identified three priorities to be implemented on the regional level to enhance the airspace infrastructure in the region:

  • The establishment of a dedicated Regional ATS Route Development body under ICAO gathering all stakeholders to review and enhance the reginal ATS Route Network, and to identify priority areas that require the implementation of Flexible Use of Airspace in the concerned states.
  • Expedite the design and implementation of Performance Based Navigation
  • Formulate and implement a roadmap for the implementation of a regional Air Traffic Flow Management mechanism.


Please click here to read AACO’s 49th AGM resolution on this matter.


Last updated on 08 August 2019


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