03 April 2011

UAE adds to its fast growing list of air services agreements

In addition to that with France (see previous post), in recent months the United Arab Emirates has announced new or enhanced air services agreements with (dates are when a statement was posted):

Ecuador - 27 March 2011
Albania - 16 February 2011
Djibouti - 15 February 2011
Bosnia and Herzegovina - 19 January 2011
Portugal - 19 January 2011
Mauritania - 16 January 2011
Cambodia - 26 December 2010
Botswana - 24 October 2010
Burkina Faso, Guatemala and Vanuatu - 11 October 2010
Panama - 28 November 2010
Slovak Republic - 18 March 2010.

The UAE has also been negotiating with:

Colombia - 19 December 2010
Venezuela - 28 November 2010

This illustrates an interesting dilemma. How many countries and territories does it make sense for a country to establish air services relationships with? ICAO currently has 188 members known as "contracting states". One wonders how many of these members the UAE is aiming to negotiate air services agreements with and how many of these agreement will eventually be used to provide international air services.

If countries are ranked on the basis of the their true origin/destination (TOD) market size (the traditional basis for exchanging restricted traffic rights), the largest markets that New Zealand currently does not have air services agreements with are Israel and then Saudi Arabia. In terms of TOD traffic, some countries with which New Zealand has air services relationships are smaller than this in terms of market size and we continue to receive approaches from countries where the end-to-end market is tiny (less than 1,000 passengers per year). New Zealand now has around 49 air services relationships.

Even if the home market one might gain access to (and through) in an exchange of air services arrangements is small, how, for example, should one take into account the size of a potential partner's airline industry (see previous post) or traffic through its main international airport measured in terms of passenger numbers when considering whether to exchange air rights? According to Airports Council International in its 2010 ranking released on 15 March 2011 Dubai International Airport (DXB) was 13th in the world in terms of passenger movements and 8th in the world for air cargo.

On 3 January 2010 UAE Interact carried a report that quoted Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA) as telling Khaleej Times, "We have already signed open sky agreements with about 45 countries in the Mena region and with some in Europe, North America and Asia. We are willing to sign open sky agreement with any country which is willing to reciprocate."

No comments: