09 March 2016
ABU DHABI -- Aviation and space leaders from Saudi Arabia and India have sent out strong signals that they are ready to partner on foreign direct investment (FDI) projects within their own markets and say that time is right to collaborate as their industries are on an upswing.
Leaders of Saudi Arabia's and India's expanding aerospace sectors laid out the investment business case at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Abdulrahman Altayeb, Advisor to the Director General on Privatisation and VP Fleet Management and Agreements, Saudi Arabian Airlines, said that the Saudi aviation landscape, which is currently undergoing increased liberalization, privatization and expansion, will see its fleet and passenger numbers double within a few years.
Predicting the country's aviation landscape over the next 15 years, Abdulmohsen O, Aynousah, Director Technical Sales & Marketing, Saudi Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) that within the space of one and a half decades, the Kingdom would be self-sufficient in assembly and maintenance within the components sector.
"For those people who have cash in their pockets, this is the time to move into the Kingdom," he said.
Altayeb, meanwhile, believes that the sector will contribute between 10-15% of the country's non-oil GDP within the 15 years - up from its current level of 2%. "The aviation sector is being given a lot of importance," he said.
Cross-border partnerships were held up by the panel as the way forward as Saudi looks for long-term self-sufficiency within the aviation sector.
"We are now training people to become involved in second tier assembly of aircraft parts - the first stage in the manufacturing process. It requires a lot of investment to provide the skills to the level required for the manufacturing sector."
We are gradually moving into the assembly of aircraft. We are committed to provide bring value-added work to the Kingdom with quality and at low cost," said Yahya Al Ghoraibi, CEO, Alsalam Aircraft Company.
Last month Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia's Taqnia Aeronautic to open an assembly plant for An-132 transport aircraft in the Kingdom while the company also signed an agreement with Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company to jointly explore helicopter production opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
"Alliances have to take place to move our agenda along," said Abdullah Alosaimi, Chief Executive Office, Taqnia Space. We now have a number of MOUs in place with LufthansaTechnik and Air France/KLM.
Taqnia Space recently signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin and the King Abdulaziz Centre for Science and Technology to explore future design, manufacture, assembly and integration of satellites in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, S.P Shukla of India's Mahindra Aerospace said that his country, currently the world's largest importer of defense equipment, will become the third largest aerospace market by 2020.
Shukla identified key investment areas as design, component manufacturing, aircraft assembly and MRO.
He said: "Within the MRO sector the bottlenecks are being sorted out little by little. It's now a matter of time before we see MRO hubs emerging in India."
He added that India's civil aviation policy will be formalized very soon and that Mahindra aims to set up operations in Abu Dhabi in the near future. Mahindra in currently the only Indian company that produces aircraft, selling them in 30 countries including in the US and in parts of Africa and Asia.
Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, the first Arab to go into space, confirmed the nation's ambitions and commitments towards developing the aerospace and space sectors whilst giving a keynote address at the second day of the Global Aerospace Summit, which is hosted by Mubadala.
Around 1,000 C-level executives and from 59 countries attended the two-day Summit where they discussed the most pressing issues and trends within the aviation, aerospace, space and defense industries. Organized by Streamline Marketing Group, the Summit is an invitation-only strategic forum, covering a wide-range of topics including globalization, workforce challenges, air traffic management, safety and sustainability.
© The Saudi Gazette 2016