The Africa, Europe, and Middle East region is an exceptionally diverse and large portfolio which covers 122 countries and four ICAO regional offices, ranging from countries and organizations with which FAA engages on a peer-to-peer level to some of the least-developed countries in the world. The FAA has its regional office in Brussels, Belgium, with senior representatives posted in Brussels, Belgium; Paris, France; Dakar, Senegal; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Warsaw, Poland.
The FAA's engagement with Europe, which extends to Russia and the former Soviet republics, is characterized by long-term partnerships with mature global aviation systems, including the institutions of the European Commission, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, Eurocontrol, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Currently, the U.S. and Europe produce most of the world's commercial aircraft, which drives high import and export activity. In addition, nearly half of FAA's Part 145 global repair stations are located in Europe.
This region, which contains important connection points to the rest of the world, has a complex, dense airspace with high passenger volumes, including substantial numbers of U.S. travelers and operators. Additionally, the European Union (EU) is home to a majority of the countries FAA is engaged with on regulatory cooperation on emerging commercial space transportation concepts and operations, as well as cooperation in other important areas, such as aviation environment and the integration of drones. As a substantial mature aviation market with large numbers of passengers, Europe remains a key international regulatory partner for FAA and economic focus for U.S. Industry.
The Middle East, especially the Gulf States, is experiencing tremendous growth in aviation at an annual rate of 10% a year (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic). Complicating matters is the continued geopolitical unrest/conflicts zones that plague the region, resulting in safety restrictions that are generating an increasing level of congestion in the region's usable airspace corridors.
Most of sub-Saharan Africa continues to lag behind the rest of the world in developing safe and reliable air transportation. However, as a bloc, these States have a significant level of influence at ICAO. There have been recent advances in liberalization of air service agreements among African States and that bodes well for increases in passenger and cargo traffic. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, IATA projects growth to increase at an annual average rate of 5.9% over the next 20 years, resulting in more than 300 million additional annual passengers.
Africa and the Middle East present opportunities for targeted strategies to advance U.S. leadership and to promote best practices for air traffic flow management, air traffic control oversight, and safety interests.