Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fujairah International Airport Evolving Into Air Center for Middle East

At the recent Air Center Conference 2011 in Fujairah many speakers approached the ‘Air Center’ concept from different angles and local experiences.

Dr Khaled Almazroui, the General Manager of the Fujairah International Airport (FIA), said to delegates at the Air Center Conference 2011 (13-14 April) that it is the goal of the FIA to become the first Air Center in the Middle East.

After tracing the evolution of the Fujairah International Airport and highlighting specific plans on the drawing board he described the concept of the Air Center and how Fujairah was finding its aviation niche.

Comparing Airport Cities and Air Centers

Dr Khaled used the following chart to compare ‘Airport Cities’ like Dubai with an emerging ‘Air Center’ like Fujairah:

Strategic Considerations

The General Manager mentioned some of the strategic considerations that were in Fujairah’s favour of becoming the first Air Center for the Middle East which included:

1. Population Growth: Fujairah currently has a population of 165,000 and is growing by 10% per annum.

2. Proximity: The new Dubai-Fujairah highway that opens in September 2011 will mean that 4 million people will be within a 45 minute drive of Fujairah.

3. Expansion of the seaport and the establishment of the Abu Dhabi to Fujairah oil pipeline.

4. The growth of the tourism industry in the emirate of Fujairah.

5. The growth of commerce and industry.

6. Fujairah’s location on the Indian Ocean and its proximity to the growing markets of Asia and Africa.

7. The increasing identification of new business niches.

Learning from France

Martin Fraissignes, the President of Chateauroux Airport, was present at the Fujairah conference.

He spoke upon how his airport had felt under the shadow of the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, until they realized there were significant advantages in becoming an Air Center.

Mr. Fraissignes named some important trends that offer favourable conditions for an airport like Fujairah that is seeking to become an Air Center:

1. Global air travel will double in the next 15 years.

2. The Middle East aviation industry is projected to sustain very strong growth in the years ahead.

3. The global and regional growth creates new opportunities to focus on cargo handling, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).

4. There will be a greater need for smaller airports to develop a range of diversified activities such as a cargo center, a training center, an aeronautical center and offering airlines customized services.

Martin Fraissignes said an airport like Fujairah could play a significant role if it has less congestion than bigger airports, it can act quickly, it is cost effective and is able to give a flexible service to its customers.

Learning from Brazil

Also speaking at the Fujairah conference was Luis Guilherme, General Manager of Marketing for the Cabo Frio Airport in Brazil.

Mr. Guilherme, likewise, spoke of the way his airport discovered its niche despite being located 140 kms near the massive airport in Rio de Janeiro.

He said his airport has been able to achieve fast cargo clearance rates and has assumed a role as a hub of air cargo for other Brazilian airports which has enabled his air center to be competitive in terms of time and money.

Why an Air Center in the Middle East?

Charles Hajdu, Strategy and Business Development Manager for the Fujairah International Airport, spoke of the location and growth of the aviation industry in the Middle East that provides the context for Fujairah to discover its special role:

1. There has been consistent growth of 8% in Middle Eastern aviation in the past decade.

2. The Middle East has combined aircraft orders of US$ 300 bill.

3. The Middle East is home to more than 700 airlines and aircraft operators.

4. More than US$120 bill. is being spent on new airports and infrastructure developments.

5. Business and executive aviation is growing at 7% per year.

6. 14% of aircraft orders with Boeing and Airbus come from Middle Eastern carriers.

7. The Middle East is a major sea/air trans-shipment point connecting Asia, Africa and Europe.

8. It is estimated there will be 3000 aircraft in service in the Middle East by 2020.

Fujairah Features

An Air Center like Fujairah could offer:

1. Cost savings

2. Local services

3. Focused Support

4. Customized requirements and tailored solutions

5. Time savings (in the light of the new highway) and convenience.

Becoming an Air Center

Charles Hajdu said:

“In the case of Fujairah, with all the power of Dubai and Abu Dhabi focused on major flows (both sea and air), this leaves niche operations and operators who are flexible and agile enough to attend to complementary businesses.”

For Fujairah to become the primary Air Center of the Middle East it will require being intentional about giving support services in the following key areas:

1. Dedicated freighter operations.

2. Training in flight, engineering, cabin crew, rescue fire fighting, airport operations etc.

3. Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).

4. Being an alternative low cost, unconstrained airport that is required for business aviation, flight training, cargo operations and low cost carriers.


Exciting Plans Developing at the Fujairah International Airport, FIF, 17 April 2011.

Middle East Aviation Boom Sets Context for Air Center Conference 2011 in Fujairah, FIF, 14 April 2011.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted in the Fujairah in Focus—Facebook Page.

Top image: The new maintenance workshops being developed at the Fujairah International Airport.

N.B. In the comparison chart 'PAX' is the aviation abbreviation for passengers.

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