ANALYSIS: October 2017 – Middle East capacity insights for the month ahead

In the continuation of a regular new series, The Blue Swan Daily offers a capacity snapshot in time and looks at the month ahead to highlight some of the key network trends across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In the case of the Middle East, a downward capacity growth trend that started in Apr-2017 has continued for a sixth consecutive month with only a modest growth being recorded for the first month of Q4 versus the same month last year. Obviously, the data is being impacted by the Qatar blockade which has ended all air connectivity between Qatar and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which is now entering its fourth month.

Overall network capacity from the Middle East is up just 1.2% in Sep-2017 versus the same month last year, its slowest monthly rate of growth in 2017 and down notably on the year average that now stands at 6.3% and the significant double-digit highs recorded in Jan-2017 and Apr-2017. This marks the continuation of a downward growth rate trend since Apr-2017 after a minor uplift in Aug-2017.

CHART – Network capacity growth from the Middle East has fallen to its lowest rate in Oct-2017 with just a 1.2% rise versus the same month last yearSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

The impact of the Qatar blockade is clear to see with departure capacity from Hamad International Airport in Doha down -14.9% for the month ahead versus the same month last year and Qatar Airways’ own departure capacity in the Middle East down -17.0% during the same periods (down -7.0% network wide).

The blockade is also impacting other countries, but not to an excessive scale with year-over-year Oct-2017 departure capacity down at Bahrain International Airport (-8.3%), Dubai International Airport (-1.5%) and airports across Saudi Arabia. Abu Dhabi International Airport sees a -14.0% decline as home carrier Etihad Airways reduces its own offering (-4.7%) and others cut capacity, including British Airways, Jet Airways, KLM, Oman Air and Pakistan International Airlines.

CHART – The impact of the Qatar blockade is clear when examining departing capacity since Jun-2017 from Hamad International Airport and to a lesser extent at Qatar AirwaysSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG 

On the opposite side, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport sees the largest rise in departure capacity in Oct-2017 thanks to its enhanced international connectivity and increasing low cost carrier operations. This is the largest monthly rise in 2017 and the eighth month of double-digit growth versus 2016, averaging at +16.1% for the year to date. Since this time last year Cathay Pacific Airways, Cobalt Aero, NEOS, Ryanair and WOW air are among the new operators into Tel Aviv while national carrier El Al, Wizz Air and LOT Polish Airlines offering an additional 50,000, 21,000 and 11,000 departure seats versus Oct-2016.

The forced Qatar Airways network cuts in the region contributes to a -1.7% fall in departure capacity in the region from the Middle East’s ten largest airlines. Saudi Arabian Airlines and Kuwait Airways continue to show the largest growth adding between 145,000 and 150,000 monthly seats to their Middle East network between Oct-2016 and Oct-2017.