More than 300 aviation and airport professionals will be heading to the first CONNECT Middle East, India & Africa (MEIA) conference which gets underway tomorrow (Tuesday 30 April).
The two-day meet, which is co-located with Arabian Travel Market 2019, unites airline and airport executives with manufacturers and suppliers, providing a global forum for business and networking opportunities. More than 40 airlines have confirmed their attendance.
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Alongside the conference programme, delegates can book one-to-one appointments in airline and airport meeting lounges and enjoy evening networking events.
Karin Butot, CEO, The Airport Agency, said: “CONNECT is a new addition to the route development calendar and co-located with ATM is a natural choice given the unprecedented growth in aviation across the region. We look forward to welcoming delegates to what promises to be a series of lively debates and discussions.”
The Middle East’s airline seat count has doubled in the last 10 years, and last year saw 264.31 million scheduled departing seats, according to anna.aero data.
Growth has been fuelled by the major expansion of scheduled carriers and more recently, low-cost airlines, which now accounts for 16 per cent of all departing seats.
Dubai International Airport, the world’s largest airport for international passenger numbers, recording 89.1 million passengers last year, accounts for 22 per cent of all departing seats in the Middle East.
Nick Pilbeam, Divisional Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, said: “Two-thirds of the world’s population are within an eight-hour flight of the GCC and the region’s airlines are continuously adding new routes, to connect to fresh destinations.”
Kicking off the two-day event will be a training workshop entitled ‘The Simpson Paradox in Donut Crunching’ – showing how best to achieve better data accuracy when estimating a route’s potential.
John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting, will then give a keynote presentation on ‘The State of the Airline Industry’ which will be followed by a briefing from Airbus which will provide updates on product lines, infrastructure regulation, airline technologies and airport capacity challenges.
China Southern Airline will hold a dedicated briefing highlighting its dual-hub strategy in Guangzhou and Beijing Daxing International Airport.
After lunch, the second keynote presentation will be European Union External Aviation Policy, in which Annabelle Lepiece, Partner, CMS DeBacker, will outline how ongoing negotiations for comprehensive air transport agreements between the EU and GCC are being “hampered by protectionist voices”.
Day one rounds off with a panel discussion on the regional opportunities and challenges, and a seminar on the relationship between air service development and infrastructure, followed by a networking event at Palace Downtown Dubai viewing deck.
The second day will analyse how airports and their regions can work together to attract new airline services and include a presentation on Dubai World Central Airport from Nathalie Jongma, Head – Aviation Business Management, Dubai Airports.
Panelists will also discuss the opportunities and threats for the rapidly growing African aviation market.
CONNECT MEIA forms part of Arabian Travel Week 2019, an umbrella brand that comprises three other co-located shows, including Arabian Travel Market, ATM Holiday Shopper and International Luxury Travel Market Arabia.