Qatar has the strongest growth in the Middle East aviation sector
Qatar demonstrated the strongest growth in air traffic volume in the Middle East, according to Amadeus, a leading technology provider in the travel industry.
According to the company, Qatar combined with Saudi Arabia and the UAE represent over 53 percent or 52.8million of the total 99 million passengers whose point of departure originated from the Middle East in 2012.
Data indicates that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar enjoyed an average growth rate of 10 per cent in air traffic volume in 2012 as compared to the previous year, outpacing the 2 percent growth experienced in the Middle East as a whole. Released at a press conference at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM 2013), the analysis forms part of a wider insight that identifies the world’s most competitive air travel markets and global air travel trends followed on an annual basis.
While Saudi Arabia and the UAE by far remain the largest air travel markets in the region with 25 million and 23.1 million respectively, Qatar represented only 4.74 million but led the way in terms of passenger volume growth.
In terms of connecting air traffic, the Middle East showed strong performance with the three key airports of Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi experiencing high connecting traffic volumes around 50 percent and growing at 10 percent per annum, while other major airports in the region (Jeddah, Riyadh or Cairo) showed connection rates of around 10 per cent. This growth echoes the findings of the Amadeus report Securing the Prize for the Middle East, which examined the factors enabling the Middle East to underpin the next wave of globalisation created by emerging economies seeking to become one of the world’s dominant global travel hubs.
Underlining the vast potential the region’s airline industry has on the global aviation stage, Antoine Medawar, vice president MENA, Amadeus commented, “Over the years, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha have executed strategies that are putting together the world’s finest airports, airplanes and professionals who are re-defining industry standards. The growth figures for these hubs are in line with strategic investments that each country has undertaken in the civil aviation sector.”
Qatar’s Hamad International airport after numerous delays once fully completed will be able to handle 50 million passengers a year with 320,000 aircraft landings and takeoffs each year. To match this the carrier has ordered more than 230 aircraft to be delivered in the coming years. Most recently Qatar Airways took charge of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which after the worldwide grounding in January of 2013, cost the carrier USD200 million (QAR728 million) the according to Akbar Al Baker. Qatar Airways recently resumed its service of the Boeing 787.
However, the continuous investment in infrastructure development in Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are what is driving a lot of air traffic. The completion of these mega projects will reign in business travel to some extent shows an Amadeus report, something national airport expansion plans seems to be ignoring. As a result the efficiency of having three large airports in the GCC region is increasingly being questioned.