IATA and the Bahraini Aviation Industry: A win-win Partnership.

Kashif Khalid / Regional Director Africa & Middle East for IATA

For 70 years IATA has been the go-to partner for airlines with a mission to represent, lead and serve the airline industry as a global organization that represents over 300 airlines across 117 countries.

It continually develops standards and practices that help airlines to deliver safety and efficiency and is dedicated to promoting the interests of the airline industry with governments and other key organizations as well as providing training and education.

Kashif Khalid, the Regional Director of Africa & Middle East for IATA’s Airports, Passenger, Cargo, Security & Facilitation division spoke to Melissa Lamb, Founding Partner of Aviation Bahrain about how IATA is partnering with public and private entities across the Bahraini aviation industry to deliver innovation, safety and transformation.

ML: Your 13-year career with IATA, specialized in the Middle East and Gulf region means that you are uniquely positioned to provide an overview of the growth and development of air transport over the past decade in

the region. What have been the key milestones of the industry? What have been some key achievements of IATA in the Middle East?

KK: The Aviation Industry in the Middle East has witnessed tremendous growth and resilience over the last decade. Some of the notable developments include the introduction and sustained growth of low-cost airlines domiciled in the region, along with legacy airlines. Heavy investments in infrastructure, both in the air and on the ground with multi-billion-dollar airports and support functions. As well as the growth of the cargo industry. IATA has been pleased to work alongside our member airlines and the wider aviation community to ensure aviation standards are being adopted and used to simplify how business is conducted and that we work towards a safe, secure and sustainable aviation ecosystem.

ML: Bahrain has emerged as a Middle Eastern powerhouse in the aviation industry, an industry worth $130 billion to the economy. How do you see Bahrain’s position in the industry and the region? How do you see the further development of the aviation cluster in the country? What is IATA’s contribution to the local sector in Bahrain?

KK: The Kingdom of Bahrain has been at the epicenter of aviation both historically and in the present. With Bahrain being a pioneer with the presence of Gulf Air in the region and the growth of the Kingdom and the communities it has historically served, Aviation has been at the forefront of this endeavor. I am pleased to say in more recent times we have seen the Bahrain Government and stakeholders invest heavily in the sector and bring world class facilities, new modern eco-friendly aircraft and create
a favorable environment for aviation operators. Another critical piece in the system is the commissioning of the new Bahrain International Airport Terminal, which is amongst the leading airports in its category. Offering a superb passenger experience and really putting the Kingdom of Bahrain on the global stage. It’s an accomplishment that the whole country should be proud of along with the national carrier Gulf Air which has been consistently investing in the product, service offering and opening up new routes to and from the Kingdom.

IATA has been pleased to continuously work with our member Gulf Air, Bahrain Airports, the Ministry of Transport and Communication to put aviation first and center. We are also pleased that besides the core IATA work we had the privilege to hold the IATA World Passenger Symposium in the Kingdom which was a great event hosted by Gulf Air.

ML: Aviation Bahrain is a newly created platform which is aimed
at promoting the business and investment opportunities across the aviation value chain in Bahrain. In your opinion, how important is industry engagement and networking?

KK: Industry engagement and networking is at the very heart of what IATA does and platforms such as Aviation Bahrain are a good tool to both create awareness and promote the work being done by various stakeholders in the aviation ecosystem

ML: IATA’s priorities include Digital Transformation; Operations,
Safety and Security; Environment; Sustainability and Social Responsibility and a Strong Association. What are some of the key initiatives under these priorities in the Middle East and Bahrain?

KK: IATA has been working diligently with our industry partners, airlines and Governments to promote both the aviation industry and to ensure that our stakeholders work off global standards be it on Airport Operations or passenger experience, baggage and ground handling. Ever since the industry has emerged from the pandemic we’ve seen some stakeholders struggle with the growing demand and return of air travel. I am pleased to say in the Middle East region including Bahrain the Governments and stakeholders consider

“The Aviation Industry in the Middle East has witnessed tremendous growth and resilience.

aviation as an enabler of their economies and the importance connectivity plays to fostering business and commerce. Therefore, all stakeholders have put in the resources, effort and policies to ensure that both aviation and the national economies are net beneficiaries.

ML: IATA has forced strong relationships with Civil organizations around the globe. How would you characterize IATA’s relationship with the CAA in Bahrain?

KK: IATA prides itself on the industry relationships and partnerships we foster with our members, Airports and National civil aviation authorities. The Bahrain Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Ministry of Transport have been key stakeholders we collaborate with and are proud of the relationship we share to strengthen the aviation sector.

ML: Bahrain will be handed the reins by Turkey to host the Routes World Conference 2024. Do you have any insights into how the route map will

develop? How might Bahrain benefit from hosting the conference?

KK: The Kingdom of Bahrain has a lot to offer global airlines, businesses, and the traveling public. Global events that are hosted in Bahrain offer delegates the ability to savor the many traditions and hospitality Bahrain is renowned for. Route connectivity and forging new partnerships are key for the aviation industry. Within the Middle East many countries and airports/airlines have been opening to non-traditional routes, offering greater connectivity for passengers and cargo, which in the end benefits a wide variety of stakeholders.

With the new airport in Bahrain opening up to new routes and offering airlines to enjoy world class facilities will definitely market Bahrain to a wider audience.

ML: Becoming an IATA member offers a number of benefits and lends credibility and confidence to any air transport company. What would you say to those looking to become an IATA member?

KK: IATA membership offers airlines, agents and strategic partners the opportunity to be part of the industry, to add value to the development of industry standards, financial services, and share ideas through our various working groups. Our members attend and benefit from Industry leading global events and have access to a host of information, business intelligence, economics and resources to support the aviation and air transport industry. IATA’s mission remains to represent, lead and serve the industry and engaging with IATA stakeholders can rest assured they get the leading industry programs and policy, publications, access to services and industry training, events and have a voice which represents them globally.