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... Previously hindered by limited infrastructure, Jordan's aviation industry has begun to take off, with a newly privatized carrier embarking on a dramatic expansion program and a major airport undergoing a $700 million renovation. Speaking at national carrier Royal Jordanian's recent corporate conference, Chairman Nasser Lozi said 2007 was a pivotal year for the airline, with over 71 percent of the former state-owned enterprise's shares now held by private investors following one of the "most efficient and successful privatization privatization: see nationalization.

Transfer of government services or assets to the private sector. State-owned assets may be sold to private owners, or statutory restrictions on competition between privately and publicly owned
 programs ever".The initial public offering (IPO (Initial Public Offering) The first time a company offers shares of stock to the public. While not a computer term per se, many founders, employees and insiders of computer companies have found this acronym more exciting than any tech term they ever heard. ), concluded in December, was heavily oversubscribed Refers to connecting more users to a system than can be fully supported if all of them were using it at the same time. Networks and servers are almost always designed with some amount of oversubscription, counting on the fact that everybody does not need the service simultaneously. , bringing in over $230 million. Although the government still retains the single largest share, with 29 percent, the rest is now in the hands of private investors. M1 Group, a Lebanese firm with aviation holdings across the region, has the second-largest share, at 19 percent, while approximately 8 percent has been set aside for Royal Jordanian Royal Jordanian Airlines (Arabic: الملكية الأردنية; transliterated: al-Malakiyah al-Orduniyah) is an airline based in Amman, Jordan, operating scheduled international services over four  employees. Some 55 percent of the total shares in the airline are held by Jordanian investors. Most of the airline's non-core assets were sold prior to the IPO, including its catering division, which was partially acquired by UK-based Alpha Group in 2001. The 45-year-old airline has been slated for a private placement since the mid-1990s but had been struggling with a debt burden in excess of $600 million. With the slowdown in the worldwide aviation sector, the plan was frozen until 2006, when it was revived with the help of Citigroup and turned into a straight IPO. Speaking with the press, CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board.  of Royal Jordanian, Samer Majali Samer Majali (Arabic: سامر المجالي) is a Jordanian businessman. He is the current President and CEO of Royal Jordanian airlines, where his career began in 1979.

He attended Dean Close School in England.
, said the privatization would help the carrier increase efficiency, expand its footprint and improve its public image.The benefits are already evident, as the airline has been bolstering both its fleet and service network. Royal Jordanian recently announced service to Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov. , its 55th destination, following maiden voyages to Budapest and Montreal. The carrier is also is slated to begin flights to Baku, its second destination in the former Soviet Union (it already flies to Moscow), in the coming months. Royal Jordanian also revealed late last month that it will begin leasing two Boeing Dreamliner 787s, starting in 2012, on its long-haul routes, and said it would buy additional Dreamliners in the coming years. Agreements have also been signed for the purchase of Airbus and Embraer aircraft.The carrier also revealed last week that its earnings grew 17 percent last year, to over $700 million--a new record for Royal Jordanian.While the privatization of Royal Jordanian has grabbed headlines in recent months, Jordan's aviation industry has also benefited from an upgrade of the country's principal airport, Queen Alia International (QAIA QAIA Quality Assurance Inspection Agency ). A consortium, led by France-based AE[umlaut umlaut (m`lout) [Ger.,=transformed sound], in inflection, variation of vowels of the type of English man to men. ]roports de Paris and the Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi (ä`b thä`bē, zä–, dä–), Arab. Abu Zabi, sheikhdom (1995 pop. 928,360), c.  Investment Company, won a $700 million 25-year concession in April of last year to construct and operate a new terminal. Once completed, the airport, which handles over 90 percent of the Kingdom's total air traffic, will boast improved services and a terminal designed by London-based Foster & Partners. According to consortium members, the development will encourage an estimated $1 billion in private investment, and is slated to boost QAIA's capacity from 3.5 million passengers to over 9 million by 2010. A push for greater liberalization lib·er·al·ize  
v. lib·er·al·ized, lib·er·al·iz·ing, lib·er·al·iz·es
To make liberal or more liberal: "Our standards of private conduct have been greatly liberalized . . .
 policies looks set to further encourage the civil aviation industry.Although Jordan currently enjoys an "open skies" agreement with the US, the government is in the process of assembling a national air transport strategy for 2008-2010 which aims to deregulate deregulate

To reduce or eliminate control. One of the major forces in the financial markets in the 1970s and 1980s was the federal government's decision to deregulate interest rates.
 the sector, boost domestic competition and increase the number of open skies policies with other countries. King Hussein International Airport, located in Aqaba Special Economic Zone, has already taken a number of steps to open its airspace, establishing itself as an "open skies airport", introducing an expansion plan and privatizing a number of its services. Imad Fakhoury, chairman and CEO of the Aqaba Development Corporation, the body charged with overseeing Aqaba's development, told OBG OBG Oldie But Goodie
OBG Open Bottom Girdle
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OBG Oh By Golly
, "Aqaba's airport aviation cluster did not exist three years ago but the push for liberalization has attracted several large investors for new projects, worth an estimated $100 million, at the airport."Jordan's high-flying airline industry is indicative of a broader regional trend. The Arab region has shown some of the fastest traffic growth in the world. Six of the world's top 20 growth markets for the aviation sector are located in the Middle East and in 2007, for the fifth year in a row, the Middle East led the world's traffic growth, reaching 13.4 percent in inter-regional traffic and 6.4 percent for intra-regional traffic, according to the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation.The region's high market growth does not appear to be a statistical anomaly. Given the MENA MENA Middle East & North Africa
MENA Middle East News Agency (Arabic Wikalat Al-Anbaa' Al-Sharq Al-'awsat)
MENA Medium-Energy Neutral Atom
MENA Mammalian Enabled
MENA Mission Element Need Analysis
 region's rapidly-expanding tourism sector, its high liquidity, lack of viable transportation alternatives and fast rate of population growth, the gains made by the aviation sector look to be sustainable. According to Global Futures and Foresight, a London-based think tank, with the over $25 billion governments are pouring into their airport expansion projects, capacity in the region is expected to reach over 300 million passengers by 2025. A* OBGReady for take off

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Feb 27, 2008
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