Shifting Sands – an update on latest developments across the Middle East

The Middle East market has been a story of growth for so many recent years as the development strategies from the likes of Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways has firmly placed the Gulf region on global route maps. But things have got more challenging. Political interference has become a norm, airline strategies have been called to attention and flights have actually been banned between some neighbouring nations across the region.

This weekly round-up delivers some of the key aviation and travel news stories from across the Middle East region.

  • Royal Jordanian launches new frequent flyer programme: Royal Club
  • Emirates to reduce operations at Dubai International by more than a quarter during runway upgrade
  • flyadeal CEO outlines ‘rules of thumb’ for success of LCCs within airline groups
  • Etihad Airways and No1 Lounges launch ‘The House’
  • Air Arabia to remain focused on short to medium short haul operations: CEO
  • Saudia takes delivery of A320ceo aircraft, finishing 2015 order for 50 aircraft
  • Emirates expands its presence across Scotland with interline agreement with Loganair
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East air cargo payload by aircraft type (data: w/c 08-Oct-2018)

Royal Jordanian launches new frequent flyer programme: Royal Club
Royal Jordanian launched a new frequent flyer programme under the name Royal Club. The new programme replaces its previous Royal Plus programme. Membership tiers include: Platinum Hawk, Gold Sparrow, Silver Jay and Bronze Sunbird. Award miles earnings can be “triple based” based on members’ purchase behaviour, with benefits including complimentary upgrades, guaranteed economy seats and gold tier partner nomination, depending on the membership tier. Other benefits include: lounge access and excess baggage allowance, in addition to priority in check-ins, upgrades, waitlists, boarding and baggage handling.


Emirates to reduce operations at Dubai International by more than a quarter during runway upgrade
Emirates Airline plans to decrease services operated from Dubai International Airport over a 45 day period between 16-Apr-2019 and 30-May-2019, during which one of the airport’s runways will undergo refurbishment. The airline has stated it will be required to reduce its operating schedule by approximately 28% in order to meet the operational restrictions.


flyadeal CEO outlines ‘rules of thumb’ for success of LCCs within airline groups
flyadeal CEO Con Korfiatis has outlined the “rules of thumb” for the success of an LCC within a legacy airline group. Speaking at last week’s CAPA – Centre for Aviation Low Cost Long Haul Global Summit in Seville, he said: “Leave it the hell alone” and allow the LCC to “do what it needs to do” without interference. Autonomy is “one of the critical factors”; maturity within the organisation on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both the LCC and parent carrier across areas including processes, workplace practices and technology; and a coordinated network approach, based on what each brand can offer, is “extremely” important.


Etihad Airways and No1 Lounges launch ‘The House’
Etihad Airways launched a new airport lounge brand, in partnership with No1 Lounges. Known as ‘The House’; the project will begin at London Heathrow Airport with Etihad’s lounge to undergo rebranding. Complimentary entry will continue to be offered to business class and first class customers, and to those travelling in The Residence. Gold and Platinum members and business class and first class travellers ticketed on codeshare partner services operated by Etihad Airways will also eligible for access. The lounge will also continue to be used by premium passengers from a limited number of other airlines and, subject to availability, will be available for purchase by passengers of other airlines.


Air Arabia to remain focused on short to medium short haul operations
Air Arabia CEO Adel Ali stated the airline will remain focused on short to medium short haul operations in a recent industry interview. New A321LR aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2019 will complement its existing fleet of A320s, enabling Air Arabia to serve new regional markets or existing high density routes, according to Mr Ali. Air Arabia expects to expand its network “even further” in order to improve connectivity in the next five years, Mr Ali said, and it remains optimistic about the future of LCC travel in the “wider region”.


Saudia takes delivery of A320ceo aircraft, finishing 2015 order for 50 aircraft
Saudia announced it took delivery of its 30th new A320ceo aircraft on 03-Oct-2018, completing its order for 50 A320ceo and A330-300 aircraft ordered from Airbus in 2015. The airline stated the new aircraft have boosted its operational capabilities and added more than six million seats on its domestic network. Saudia expects to further boost its single-aisle fleet with the arrival of A320neo jets.


Emirates expands its presence across Scotland with interline agreement with Loganair
United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier Emirates Airline has signed an interline agreement with UK regional carrier Loganair opening the Dubai based carrier’s global network to Loganair passengers. The partnership enables passengers from Scotland’s Highlands and Islands to travel via Glasgow and Edinburgh with their luggage on one ticket to Emirates’ network of 155 destinations across more than 80. The agreement will see some of Scotland’s smallest and most remote airports displayed on Emirates’ online booking system between many of the world’s biggest cities.


Route Updates

  • AtlasGlobal plans to increase Istanbul Ataturk-Tehran frequency from seven to 10 times weekly from 29-Oct-2018.
  • Uni-Top Airlines plans to operate a future three times weekly Kunming-Dubai freight service with Boeing 747F aircraft.
  • Turkish Airlines plans to decrease Istanbul Ataturk-Dubai frequency from 14 to 12 times weekly from 16-Apr-2019 to 30-May-2019, reports AirlineRoute. The carrier operates the route with A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, according to OAG.

  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East air cargo payload by aircraft type (data: w/c 08-Oct-2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG