Aviation industry upbeat about new stimulus plan
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Flydubai, Emirates work towards capitalising on the opportunity to boost passenger numbers

Dubai: The aviation industry and the travel and tourism sector overall stands to gain immensely from the new economic initiatives announced by Dubai government a few days ago, according to flydubai’s top executive.

“When the government leads by example and [offer] incentives for people to be more participating in the economy, by spending more or reducing costs, it’s always good, for everybody,” said the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Ghaith Al Ghaith. He added that the airline business is an “integral part” of the whole economy.

The Dubai Government on April 14 called on government departments to work on an extensive reform package to boost business confidence and economic growth in the emirate.

The initiative, announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is aimed at bringing down the overall cost of doing business in Dubai, thereby boosting economic growth.

“It’s a very good plan. What it shows is how much our leadership is connected to what’s going on and the passion that they have for the economy, and for every individual — residents and nationals,” said Al Ghaith.

He added: “I am sure that this plan launched by His Highness will be very good for the economy — not just for the aviation [sector] but for the whole economy.”

Describing the move as a “huge boost” to the industry, Al Ghaith said: “By advocating and acting to make the country more accessible, easier to do business in, gives a positive return in general.”

The overall stimulus plan includes proposals to allocate 20 per cent of government tenders to small and medium-sized businesses, developing low-cost family tourism systems through a time-sharing system, and enact a mortgage law.

The elements for the tourism sector per se involve the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) ensuring an increase in the number of visitors at a low cost by attracting 10 per cent of the transit passengers, constituting an additional 1 million visitors annually.

“We have a huge number of transit [passengers] that come to Dubai, so if we can make the transit business more of an opportunity to visit, [it will be] very good,” Al Ghaith said, adding that a lot of coordination needs to be done to make the process smooth.

Echoing his views is Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice-president of commercial operations at Emirates, who said the airline is currently working with the government, immigration authorities and Dubai Airports to see where Emirates can enhance this opportunity.

“They have announced stopover visas, and we are very happy to hear that because at the end, it’s going to benefit not just the airlines, but the hotels and the tourism industry,” he said.

This is in addition to promoting family tourism using the timeshare system — increasing the number of family tourists from 70,000 to 150,000 annually besides encouraging tourists to stay longer and make frequent visits.

“For us 75 per cent of our passengers go beyond Dubai. We attract 20-25 per cent, and we need to increase this number. Even if you’re talking about [increasing it by] 5 per cent, this is a huge number,” Al Mualla said.

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