Bright future predicted for the region’s airline industry

A global trends report by Euromonitor International concluded that the pivotal location of Dubai as a global aviation hub, straddling East and West, will offer Middle East carriers a golden opportunity to shine on a global stage.

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By  Gemma Greenwood Published  December 4, 2006

|~|WTM-head-to-head-large.gif|~|Tim Clark on the WTM stage: Emirates Airline plans to carry 35 million passengers by 2012.|~|As many Middle Eastern countries now look to tourism to help diversify their economies, the region’s aviation sector is becoming increasingly segmented as new start up airlines emerge to challenge incumbent, Dubai-based carrier, Emirates Airline, for a share of the global aviation pie. That was one of the key conclusions drawn by analysts at global strategic market intelligence company, Euromonitor International, presenting a global trends survey to key media at last month’s World Travel Market in London. Euromonitor predicted that air arrivals to the Middle East will increase 7% to 26 million this year, driven by the emergence of new airlines and the staggering expansion rates of existing ones, as oil states look to diversify their economies by turning to tourism as an alternative revenue source. “In order for tourism to take off, huge investments in the aviation industry have been made and three different [aviation] categories have emerged: pioneering legacy carriers, second generation carriers and the new low cost carrier entrants,” the report, presented by UK TV journalist, Lisa Aziz, stated. Euromonitor declared Emirates the “most successful” Middle Eastern airline and said the legacy carrier was on track to dominate the long haul market, supported by the fact it had placed an order for 45 Airbus A380 aircraft. Clement Wong, Euromonitor’s account manager for travel and tourism, said Emirates currently commanded a 0.1% share of the global air sector, but claimed that once the A380s had been delivered, the airline was on track to boast a 10% market share of total global long haul air travel. Euromonitor also predicted Emirates could move into the low cost long haul market: “Its new A380s will be able to seat 555 passengers and in the most extreme case, all seats could be converted to 100% low cost,” said the study. Aziz added that through heavy investment in its long haul fleet and the recruitment of experienced industry employees from other longer established airlines, Emirates had been able to “grow exponentially in tandem with Dubai’s rising destination status”. This sentiment was enforced by the airline’s president, Tim Clark, who was interviewed by aviation industry analyst, John Strickland, during WTM. “Our destiny is linked to Dubai. Had we known the rate of change and progress we would have been a lot more bullish than we are today about our fleet and network expansion,” he told the WTM audience. “The airport is growing enormously to take a projected 70 million passengers in 2012-13 and a second airport by 2020. Dubai is experiencing 15% growth in passenger movement through the airport and cargo tonnage is rising 30% and coming to a point where it can’t take any more.” He said Emirates planned to carry 35 million passengers by 2012, representing 50% of total airport capacity, and that with other international carriers flocking to Dubai, there would soon be “nowhere to park the planes”. Euromonitor stressed that Dubai was emerging as an international air hub, with many air passengers transiting through the emirate, rather than through Europe. Second-generation airlines such as Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways are also trying to achieve this to the extent that many countries, particularly Australia, had sought measures to protect their national carrier and its profitable routes to Europe via Asia. Emirates is struggling to secure the rights to up its frequencies to Australia and Qatar Airways’ application to fly Down Under has so far been rejected by the Australian Government. Etihad Airways has also indicated its interest in flying to Australia. Euromonitor predicted that by 2010, the Middle East would welcome 38 million air arrivals annually representing 58% growth on 2005 figures. This will drive a 35% increase in bed nights to 387 million. The leading destinations are likely to be the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The World Tourism Organisation also predicts that by 2010, more than 60% of all tourist arrivals will be long haul and the remainder, intra-regional, dominated by the growing middle classes in Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where disposable income is forecast to rise between 11 and 17% by 2010.||**||EUROMONITOR INTERNATIONAL'S KEY GLOBAL TREND FINDINGS|~|WTM.gif|~||~|The UK: the continued rise in the number of single people living in the UK with increased disposable income offers high revenue potential for the travel and tourism industry, yet the singles market is relatively untapped. America: US travel and tourism companies are creating highly customised packages to target different life stages including ‘Babymoons’ for couples expecting babies, ‘Grand Travel’ packages for grandparents, as well as men-only and female-only holidays and teenage hotel sleepover itineraries. Asia: the fastest growing gaming market in the world, driven by Macau. Demand is expected from Europe, the US and intra-Asia, aided by the expansion of short- and long-haul low cost airlines. The Middle East: regional and international carriers are starting to route via Dubai rather than Asia or Europe. Africa: travellers are increasingly rejecting travel advisories and embarking on radical travel plans, giving rise to ‘extreme’ and ‘reality’ tourism. This trend will allow Africa to diversify away from purely nature tourism. Europe: Asian tourists are flocking to Europe, but the continent needs to improve its infrastructure, services, transportation and accommodation in order to cater to demand and expectations. If it fails to do so, destinations such as the Middle East could steal this lucrative market. For more information visit www.euromonitor.travel.com||**||

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