One of the Middle East’s most senior airline executives has dismissed claims that the three major Mideast airlines are growing more than other carriers operating in the region because of unfair advantages.
Ram Menem, head of Emirates SkyCargo and soon to retire after 40 years in aviation, said foreign carriers operating at Dubai receive the same terms and conditions as Emirates in terms of landing, taxes and fuel prices.
“We’re subject to the same costs,” he told the JOC. “British Airways gets the same deal here as us. Lufthansa Cargo had a hub in Sharjah, so they benefitted exactly the same as us.
“These are the people crying foul. We are being accused of a lot of things that are not correct.
“OK, our hub is here. But we have it the same the other way around in their markets where they have their hubs.
“All I can say is, pardon me for being efficient.”
Menem believes the attacks are designed to protect national airlines in Europe and elsewhere from competition, but instead backfire by stunting economic growth.
“If you look at the three major Middle Eastern airlines growing, they are growing because of their countries’ commitment to open skies and free markets,” Menem said. “Lots of markets deny access, and by doing that, they deny growth.
“We have unrestricted access here. Once you put a wall around yourself, you are trapped, so you can’t then complain when others grow.”
Menem argues that the world’s economic center of gravity has irrevocably shifted eastward, giving the Middle East a major advantage as the perfect geographic axis for east-west and north-south trade. “That’s very powerful,” he said. “In eight hours flying from here we have 5.8 billion people. India and China are the fastest-growing markets, and they are opening those markets.
“The reason some countries don’t grow is because they deny access to passenger planes, but by doing so this, (it) also hurts exports which often move in bellyholds.
“Airlines have a multiplier effect on economies, and they can be the best marketing arm a country can buy because they promote the destination. If you keep them out, then you deny yourself that multiplier effect.”
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