Navigating the impact of COVID-19 in the Middle East


Eng. Adel Alaufi, International Cooperation Office Manager, SANS, provides insight into how aviation is navigating a changing landscape in the Middle East.

The past year has presented many challenges for the aviation industry worldwide. With average daily movements in the Middle East still only half of pre-pandemic levels, the region’s aviation industry is working hard to navigate the situation through key efficiency measures and vital collaboration.

CANSO Middle East represents the ATM industry in the region, and plays an active role in facilitating dialogue with aviation partners and stakeholders.

In April, SANS represented CANSO at a virtual meeting organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization – Middle East Office (ICAO – MID) to address the economic impact of COVID-19 on aviation. Together we considered the impact of present conditions on all aviation stakeholders, including airlines, airports, civil aviation authorities, air navigation service providers (ANSP), as well as other sectors such as the tourism. Experts of all disciplines from the entire MID region civil aviation industry participated.

During the event, Mr. Alaufi explored the impact of COVID-19 on air navigation service providers, and highlighted some steps the ATM community has taken towards recovery.

Operational efficiency

ANSPs work on a cost recovery basis, which is particularly challenging in such unprecedented times, when traffic dipped to an all-time low. Through efficient leadership, dedicated personnel and an organised work environment however, a proactive approach has been achieved by the industry.

Through operational cost savings, government support, and reduced outsourced services, the industry has been able to contain costs and achieve stability.

Empowering partnerships

Through CANSO, the ATM community also joined together to create strategic technology and data partnerships and develop operational and regional initiatives that shared expertise and knowledge across our network. CANSO also represented the industry in key discussions and international stakeholder fora, such as the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART).

These partnerships have been vital in delivering timely information and practical tools for the industry, and have enabled the industry to have strong global and regional voice.

Success story

When asked how do you rank the aviation community’s approach to navigating the pandemic out of 10, I responded “10 , an outstanding response”. Even though it was an unprecedented time, the aviation sector did what it needed to safely repatriate citizens and seamlessly support the transport of vital good and services worldwide. ATM has played an important part in this, keeping our skies open and air transport safe, and I am proud of this contribution.

While the Middle East, like many other regions, may not be back to where we were yet, we are on the way to recovery – we’re leading by example and learning from our peers across the industry. Together we’re stronger and together we’re building a new era for aviation.

Middle East