The inaugural edition of the annual Airports Expansion, Cargo and Logistics Conference and Exhibition, organised by Arabian Reach, the UAE-based company specialising in exhibitions and events management across the region, began Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Erbil, Iraq, with the participation of over 2000 visitors from 33 countries across the world. UAE visitors alone comprise 35% of the total number of visitors.
The two-day conference provides a strategic platform for networking and business development opportunities for all companies operating in the aviation, airports, cargo and logistics sectors, and are keen to tap into the lucrative market of Iraq. It brings together government departments, humanitarian contractors, air carriers, logistics firms, freight forwarders and various specialist service suppliers under one roof.
Among key speakers at the conference held concurrently with the exhibition was Talar Faiq (pictured), Director of Erbil International Airport, who provided an overview of the airport's history, present and future. She specifically highlighted the new $300m world-class international airport and terminal. She said: "The airport has undergone major expansions and we are now proud to have one of the longest runways in the world at 4800 metre."
"Erbil International Airport works closely with 13 carriers serving 23 destinations. In 2010, we recorded over 454,000 passengers, which marked an increase of 178% in passenger traffic compared to 2006. This also reflects the high safety and security standards that we adhere to, as well as our ambitious plans to be on par with the world's leading airports by offering state-of-the-art facilities," she added.
All economic indicators point towards promising opportunities in Iraq's civil aviation sector, which is experiencing what has been heralded as a 'new beginning'. Despite being up against a challenging environment and years of underinvestment and deterioration, significant steps towards the reconstruction of the civil aviation sector have been taken. The country has a clear vision of the world-class facilities that it plans to develop, as well as a strong strategy for rebuilding Iraqi Airways as an international airline. Iraq's major airports are being rehabilitated, and provincial governments are upgrading existing airports as well as planning the construction of new airports.
Cargo & logistics facilities in the country are also being given a facelift. Cargo villages are planned, with latest shelving storage technology & material handling equipments. In addition, procurement of a range of solution providers from design and build engineers, air traffic control systems, baggage handling and passenger ticketing equipment is also underway.
Among other list of speakers at the event are Kefah Jabbar, Director General of Iraqi Airways; Dr. Khaled Al Mazroui, Chairman of Gulf Airports Services Association; Juergen Strommer, Managing Director of Cavotec Middle East; Tahir Abdulla, Director of Sulaimanya Airport; Ameer, Director of Basra Airport; Ali Salhi, Director and Governor of Kirkuk Province; and Hussam Al Haddad, General Manager of ATEIS Middle East.
The event was held under the patronage of the Ministry of Transport in Iraq and supported by international government bodies and trade associations, including Starlight Airlines as the presidential sponsor, Mateen Express as the gold sponsor and Makyol, a leading construction firm, as the gold sponsor.