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Aviation growth may continue, says CAPA chief

Abu Dhabi, February 25, 2009

The chair for the upcoming aviation summit feels that the Middle East aviation industry may continue to grow despite the pressures being felt across the world, according to a statement.

World aviation experts will convene in Abu Dhabi next month to discuss the impact of the global credit crunch and lower oil prices on an industry that has been going through upheavals since the turn of the century.

While global air passenger traffic figures inevitably reflect the downturn in global economies, regional airlines and the aviation community appear to be using the current global pressures to their advantage.

“No country will be immune from the significant pressures being felt across the developed world, but a key feature in the Middle East is that the industry is still growing albeit at a lower rate,” said Peter Harbison, chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) who will chair the summit organized by leading global business media company Terrapinn. “The prospects are that this growth will continue.”

Speakers at the event which will be held at the Beach Rotana Hotel from March 3 to 5 will include top tier officials from international and regional airlines including Etihad, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines, Wataniya, Royal Jet, Gulf Air, Air Arabia, Sama, Jazeera Airways, Airblue, Kingfisher, Air Asia X, Kuwait Airways and Mihinlanka Airlines and Virgin Blue.

Hifazat Ahmad, Terrapinn’s general manager said: “These are very interesting times for the region which is adding extra capacity both to its airports and airline fleets over the next two years. We have seen regional airlines already becoming more aggressive in their growth and sales strategies. There are seismic changes in the regional aviation industry which could shift the balance of world gateways into the Middle East.”

“A major contributor is the growing effectiveness of the Gulf carriers’ networks, as they add new capacity and frequency to what is now an extensive East-West and North-South one-stop-connectivity system,” Harbison agreed.

Overall, the ten leading airports in the Middle East are building enough capacity to handle 320 million passengers per annum by 2012. Last September alone, Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports have increased their annual passenger handling capacity by a total of 32 million passengers with the opening of two new dedicated terminals for Etihad and Emirates Airlines. The total capacity of the two airports has risen to 72 million passengers per annum.

Abu Dhabi is already proceeding with plans for the new midfield terminal complex, which is due for completion by 2012, boosting passenger capacity by approximately 20 million per annum. Qatar has plans to double its capacity to 24 million passengers per annum by 2011.  

Airlines are also gearing themselves to weather the difficult times as the world economy undergoes a period of significant weakness.

Within the next 12 months, regional airlines are scheduled to take delivery of 200 aircraft out of total current orders for 1,105 aircraft. The region’s airlines currently operate 971 aircraft.

“A dose of unfriendly economic conditions could set the Middle East airlines on course for a position of long term strength, even if they too must suffer some pain,” added Harbison. “When compared with global fleets generally, the new arrivals are heavily weighted towards large, long haul, wide body aircraft.”

This will support the one-stop connectivity system between East-West and North-South.

The Middle East also remains today one of the few markets globally showing continued strength in premium travel. The largest of these include Europe-Middle East, which is still growing in double digits and showing no sign of any slowdown, according to CAPA chief. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: abu dhabi | Summit | CAPA | Terrapin | Middle East aviation |

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