The Business Year

HE Fawaz A. Al-Farah

KUWAIT - Transport

Added Volume

President, DGCA

Bio

HE Fawaz A. Al-Farah is the President of the DGCA. He holds a degree in Business Administration from Kuwait University and an MBA from the American University in Washington, DC. He began his career as an Air Transport Researcher at the DGCA and has held many key positions since then, including Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Civil Aviation and Member of the Board at Kuwait Airways.

"The private sector has ample opportunities to participate in these development projects."

How has the air transport industry developed in Kuwait over the past few years?

The local air transport industry has grown significantly over the past few years. Since we adopted an open skies policy at Kuwait International Airport, we have seen a great increase in the volume of passenger aircraft and cargo traffic. In 2014, around 10.3 million passengers used Kuwait International Airport, an increase of 10% from 2013. We also had 85,000 aircraft using the airport, again a 9% increase over 2013. Revenues of the Kuwaiti air transport market reached around $1.9 billion last year. Most of that revenue was from direct ticket sales through travel agencies or through airline offices in Kuwait, not including tickets sold on the internet. We also saw a cargo increase of about 7% in 2014 compared to 2013, reaching 189 million kilograms of cargo. So we have seen large increases across the board. That has also brought challenges with it, because we now need to upgrade Kuwait International Airport so it can sustain these kinds of figures. Various expansion projects are underway for our airport facilities. One of the biggest projects involves a new passenger terminal, to be undertaken by the Ministry of Public Works. The project is still in the tendering process. Once completed, it will accommodate up to 25 million passengers in the first stage. We at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation are taking on another project that involves renewing the two existing runways and constructing a third, as well as a new air control tower. There will be new taxiways as well, and even a new cargo city at the airport. These are huge and highly anticipated projects.

Where do you see room for improvement within Kuwait’s civil aviation sector, and what are your priorities at the Directorate?

We have to deal with this expected growth during the next 10 years in Kuwait. Air transport and air traffic is forecast to grow at least 6% per year. One of our priorities is to create a company that will be charged with the management and operation of Kuwait International Airport. The belief is that an independent company can act in a more flexible and commercial manner under the supervision of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

“The private sector has ample opportunities to participate in these development projects.”

What opportunities do you see for further investment from the private sector to meet these growing demands?

The private sector has ample opportunities to participate in these development projects, and also in offering services at Kuwait International Airport, such as handling and passenger services. The company we will create to manage Kuwait International Airport will be able to sign and make contracts and agreements with other airport operators and service providers, so they will have access to international expertise in terms of managing the airport.

How do cooperation agreements like the open skies policy help contribute to Kuwait’s economic growth and enhance cooperation in the region and internationally?

The open skies policy is a base for us to expand our bilateral air transport relationships with other countries. We have witnessed an increase in the number of airlines serving our airport, around 45 international carriers in all. Also, Kuwait International Airport is linked to an expanded network of expanded networks, and that brings more choices for passengers to select suitable air transport carriers. It also brings reduced airfares due to increased competition in the market to the advantage of the passenger. We believe that when airlines increase their operations at any airport, it contributes to the national economy, as airlines pay charges and fees to the airport, they buy catering for flights, they buy fuel, and they pay for office rental and services at the airport.

What message would you give the business community in terms of how the DGCA is supporting air traffic growth?

We are supporting that growth, and we think there will be more opportunities for business investors to come here and utilize these opportunities in the construction and navigational equipment projects we have at hand, as well as services projects that we will also be offered at Kuwait International Airport.

What are your main expectations as you look ahead to 2016?

We understand the challenge of increased passenger volumes. Our airport has to be expanded and we have to be ready to face this growth and support it. In that respect, a support passenger terminal will be built with a completion date of 2016. The scheme will be tendered before the end of 2015. The support terminal should be constructed within a year. We hope this facility will accommodate any further growth in air transport.

© The Business Year – June 2015

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