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.

  • Qatar Airways interested in investing in US carrier but ‘We don’t want to rock the boat’: CEO
  • Etihad Airways to offer ‘The House’ lounges in Sydney and Melbourne
  • Saudi Arabia requires more aviation education infrastructure: Saudi Aviation Club vice chairman
  • Doha airport hub to look to robotics and blockchain in the future
  • New Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport to fully open in 2030
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East – Asia Pacific weekly system capacity

Qatar Airways interested in investing in US carrier but ‘We don’t want to rock the boat’: CEO
Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said the carrier is interested in investing in a US airline, commenting: “Any stable CEO of an airline would want to invest in the United States”. He said: “At the moment we are happy with what we have” and added: “As you know there is a lot of resistance to Qatar Airways investing… We don’t want to rock the boat”. Al Baker noted that the American market “is pivotal for Qatar Airways” and confirmed the airline is “looking into investing opportunities in the United States and the broader Americas market”. He also “stressed the importance of the airline’s position in the oneworld alliance”.


Etihad Airways to offer ‘The House’ lounges in Sydney and Melbourne
Etihad Airways eligible passengers from the carrier and Virgin Australia will be able to use ‘The House’ lounges at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport from 23-Oct-2018 and Melbourne Tullamarine Airport from 27-Oct-2018, in partnership with No1 Lounges. Both lounges will be refurbished over the next year, including the introduction of reading rooms and a private room for VIP guests in Sydney. ‘The House’ lounge brand was launched at London Heathrow Airport on 05-Oct-2018.


Saudi Arabia requires more aviation education infrastructure: Saudi Aviation Club vice chairman
Saudi Aviation Club vice chairman Prince Fahd bin Mishaal bin Saud said Saudi Arabia requires more aviation education institutions and facilities to meet future demand for personnel. He said 64,000 pilots, 66,000 technicians and 97,000 cabin crew will be required in the next 20 years. Prince Fahd said: “Despite these large numbers which we aspire to reach, we are still late in the qualification outputs and we do not have enough academies, institutes and clubs”.


Doha airport hub to look to robotics and blockchain in the future
Doha Hamad International Airport VP of security Saeed Al Sulaiti stated the “next step” for the airport is to “initiate new trials aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of robotics for passenger facilitation, and of blockchain technology for the rapid and secure sharing of data across multiple stakeholders,” in an interview published in trade title Airport World. He added: “What I can tell you is that as HIA looks ahead to accommodating rising passenger demand while maintaining and boosting its position as one of the best airports in the world, staying ahead of the game with airport trends and innovation and empowering passengers will remain at the core of airport operations as we strive for excellence”.


New Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport to fully open in 2030
The Government of Dubai has reported the expansion of Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport is expected to completed by 2030, five years later than originally anticipated. According to Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP), the airport will be able to accommodate 130 million passengers p/a within the first year of opening. Once all projects are complete, the airport will be able to handle 260 million passengers p/a. As previously reported by CAPA, DAEP recently launched a substructure package tender for the airport project. A contract is scheduled to be awarded in 1Q2019.


Route Updates

  • Kuwait Airways plans to increase Kuwait-Doha frequency from 14 to 19 times weekly, effective 29-Oct-2018 and Jazeera Airways plans to increase Kuwait-Doha frequency from 14 to 21 times weekly, effective 05-Nov-2018.
  • SmartWings plans to launch weekly Prague-Salalah charter service from 04-Nov-2018, operating with Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
  • Iran Air plans to suspend weekly Tehran Imam Khomeini-Rome Fiumicino service, effective 29-Oct-2018, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database.
  • Emirates Airline reportedly plans to suspend Dubai-Multan service due to low average load factor, effective 26-Oct-2018.
  • airblue plans to increase Islamabad-Dubai frequency to six times weekly and Lahore-Dubai frequency to daily in winter 2018/2019.
  • China Southern Airlines plans to launch twice weekly Shenzhen-Dubai service from 28-Oct-2018. There is currently no scheduled service on the route, according to OAG.
  • flynas reportedly plans to commence three times weekly Dammam-Karachi service, effective 03-Nov-2018. The LCC will operate the service with A320 aircraft.

  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East – Asia Pacific weekly system capacitySource: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG