Middle East aviation passenger will double in next 20 years
AVIATION & AIRPORTS

Middle East aviation passenger will double in next 20 years

As significant new airports emerge from the desert and aircraft orders start to come in, the resource-rich Gulf is increasing its involvement in a sector that is expected to grow significantly in the next few decades. Two years after it was hosted in Qatar, the International Air Transport Association's AGM is being held this week in Dubai. Billions of dollars are being invested in aviation throughout the affluent area. And with good reason?the International Trade Association projects that passenger traffic in the Middle East will treble over the next 20 years, reaching 530 million by 2043. Global estimates are expected to grow similarly.

Authorities claim that Dubai, which now hosts the busiest airport in the world for international travel, has begun construction of an even larger airport that would handle approximately 260 million passengers annually, which would be the biggest in the world. A short drive away, the United Arab Emirates' capital Abu Dhabi opened a new terminal in November, while gas-rich Qatar has also been expanding Doha's Hamad International Airport.

Making a significant play is neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which is investing its oil wealth in initiatives that will support it through the transition to sustainable energy. Saudi Arabia has launched Riyadh Air, a new airline with 39 Boeing aircraft on order, in addition to announcing the opening of a new air terminal in Riyadh with capacity for 120 million passengers annually. The Saudia Group, headquartered in Jeddah and owner of Flyadeal and Saudia Airlines, revealed last month a massive deal for 105 Airbus planes. Emirates, Dubai's state-owned carrier, with its large fleet of long-range, wide-body aircraft, was described as epitomising the Gulf's "hub and spoke" model, wherein a globe-spanning range of long-haul destinations are linked by connecting flights through Dubai. Stan Deal, who was then head of Boeing's commercial aircraft division, explained late last year that the Gulf region is unique due to its geography, allowing for reaching 80 percent of the world's population within an eight-hour flight. While Asia is expected to drive the rise in global passenger traffic, the Gulf is anticipated to benefit as it lies just a short hop from the growing markets of South Asia. Nina Lind, an aviation specialist at management consultancy McKinsey, remarked that the Gulf region is well positioned to capture Indian traffic and connect the subcontinent. She also noted the incoming travel growth from Indonesia, referring to pilgrims heading to Saudi Arabia's holy sites from the world's largest majority Muslim country. According to Airbus, traffic between the Middle East and Asia is projected to increase three-fold by 2042 and more than double between the Middle East and Europe. Kamil Alawadhi, IATA vice president, indicated that Middle East airports are currently on par with demand, perhaps lagging slightly, and emphasised a calculated business plan for either expansion or the construction of new airports. He expressed confidence that there wouldn't be overcapacity in the region for at least the next few decades. Geoffrey Weston, head of consultancy Bain and Company's airlines, logistics, and transportation sector, noted that Gulf airlines, including Qatar Airways and Etihad, have the advantage of strong brands and close links to Asia. He highlighted their two-decade effort in building their brands and strengthening ties with Asian and Indian subcontinent clients. Additionally, he mentioned their exploration of markets in East Africa, West Africa, and Southern Africa.

As significant new airports emerge from the desert and aircraft orders start to come in, the resource-rich Gulf is increasing its involvement in a sector that is expected to grow significantly in the next few decades. Two years after it was hosted in Qatar, the International Air Transport Association's AGM is being held this week in Dubai. Billions of dollars are being invested in aviation throughout the affluent area. And with good reason?the International Trade Association projects that passenger traffic in the Middle East will treble over the next 20 years, reaching 530 million by 2043. Global estimates are expected to grow similarly. Authorities claim that Dubai, which now hosts the busiest airport in the world for international travel, has begun construction of an even larger airport that would handle approximately 260 million passengers annually, which would be the biggest in the world. A short drive away, the United Arab Emirates' capital Abu Dhabi opened a new terminal in November, while gas-rich Qatar has also been expanding Doha's Hamad International Airport. Making a significant play is neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which is investing its oil wealth in initiatives that will support it through the transition to sustainable energy. Saudi Arabia has launched Riyadh Air, a new airline with 39 Boeing aircraft on order, in addition to announcing the opening of a new air terminal in Riyadh with capacity for 120 million passengers annually. The Saudia Group, headquartered in Jeddah and owner of Flyadeal and Saudia Airlines, revealed last month a massive deal for 105 Airbus planes. Emirates, Dubai's state-owned carrier, with its large fleet of long-range, wide-body aircraft, was described as epitomising the Gulf's hub and spoke model, wherein a globe-spanning range of long-haul destinations are linked by connecting flights through Dubai. Stan Deal, who was then head of Boeing's commercial aircraft division, explained late last year that the Gulf region is unique due to its geography, allowing for reaching 80 percent of the world's population within an eight-hour flight. While Asia is expected to drive the rise in global passenger traffic, the Gulf is anticipated to benefit as it lies just a short hop from the growing markets of South Asia. Nina Lind, an aviation specialist at management consultancy McKinsey, remarked that the Gulf region is well positioned to capture Indian traffic and connect the subcontinent. She also noted the incoming travel growth from Indonesia, referring to pilgrims heading to Saudi Arabia's holy sites from the world's largest majority Muslim country. According to Airbus, traffic between the Middle East and Asia is projected to increase three-fold by 2042 and more than double between the Middle East and Europe. Kamil Alawadhi, IATA vice president, indicated that Middle East airports are currently on par with demand, perhaps lagging slightly, and emphasised a calculated business plan for either expansion or the construction of new airports. He expressed confidence that there wouldn't be overcapacity in the region for at least the next few decades. Geoffrey Weston, head of consultancy Bain and Company's airlines, logistics, and transportation sector, noted that Gulf airlines, including Qatar Airways and Etihad, have the advantage of strong brands and close links to Asia. He highlighted their two-decade effort in building their brands and strengthening ties with Asian and Indian subcontinent clients. Additionally, he mentioned their exploration of markets in East Africa, West Africa, and Southern Africa.

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