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.

  • IAG CEO believes it is ‘highly likely’ Qatar Airways will depart oneworld
  • Emirates to offer ‘home check-in’ option in Dubai for Dec-2018
  • Jazeera Airways reports 35% y-o-y increase in fuel prices, but ended 3Q2018 with ‘zero debt’
  • flyadeal to implement new one bag cabin policy, reduced checked baggage fees
  • Iranian airlines to be prohibited from refuelling at Beirut airport: report
  • Saudi Arabia GACA reports 73% satisfaction rate for major airports in Oct-2018
  • Saudia confirms launch of new IFEtechnology on A320 aircraft, cabin reconfiguration
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East weekly capacity by airline alliance (w/c 12-Nov-2018)

IAG CEO believes it is ‘highly likely’ Qatar Airways will depart oneworld
IAG CEO Willie Walsh has stated he believes it is “highly” likely that Qatar Airways will exit the oneworld alliance. He explained: “I have had regular contact Akbar Al Baker on this issue. He doesn’t say these things without being genuinely behind the comments. He is annoyed at the way some oneworld members have responded, as alliance partners. I think this is a genuine threat”.


Emirates to offer ‘home check-in’ option in Dubai for Dec-2018
Emirates announced its ‘home check-in’ option will be available to customers travelling from Dubai for AED250 (USD66) “during the festive period” in Dec-2018, for up to seven pieces of baggage. Home check-in agents will come to a traveller’s home, hotel or office anywhere in Dubai to complete the security check, conduct check-in formalities and issue boarding passes, weigh their luggage, and tag and transport the bags to be delivered.


Jazeera Airways reports 35% y-o-y increase in fuel prices, but ended 3Q2018 with ‘zero debt’
Jazeera Airways reported fuel prices continued to increase in 3Q2018, rising by 35% year-on-year, while the competitive landscape remained strong. The airline noted its investments in expanding its offering and network continued to yield positive results, despite the challenges. Jazeera Airways ended 3Q2018 with “zero debt”, chairman Marwan Boodi said, after tapping into a “new segment of customers” with new routes to India.


flyadeal to implement new one bag cabin policy, reduced checked baggage fees
flyadeal plans to implement a new one bag cabin policy from 19-Nov-2018. Passengers will be allowed to carry only one 7kg cabin bag onboard. The airline will also “slash” its prepaid checked baggage fees and charge SAR40 (USD10.66) instead of SAR55 (USD14.66) for a 15kg bag and SAR75 (USD20) instead of SAR90 (US24) for a 25kg bag. The airline hopes the new policy will provide “a more streamlined boarding experience” and overcome problems with limited overhead bin space.


Iranian airlines to be prohibited from refuelling at Beirut airport: report
Lebanon’s Minister of Public Works and Transport Youssef Fenianos reportedly stated Iranian airlines impacted by US sanctions will be prohibited from refuelling at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, according to reports. Mr Fenianos stated the decision was made “for sure by [oil provider] companies”, and not by the government. The civil aviation authority will reportedly study the situation once it has received an official notice of the new sanctions. Mr Fenianos added the government is “studying all the circumstances. It’s not easy at all, we have so many points to discuss and lots of opinions”.


Saudi Arabia GACA reports 73% satisfaction rate for major airports in Oct-2018
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) reported a survey of more than 500,000 travellers at Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah airports found a 73% satisfaction rate during Oct-2018. Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport scored the lowest with 60%, while Madinah Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport reported a satisfaction rate of 78%.


Saudia confirms launch of new IFEtechnology on A320 aircraft, cabin reconfiguration
Saudia has confirmed the addition of latest satellite communications and inflight entertainment (IFE) technology on its Airbus A320 aircraft. The technology includes highspeed internet and live television options. The airline will also modernise and reconfigure the business cabin with new seating and inflight screens.


Route Updates

  • Oman Air plans to operate a daily Muscat-Athens service, effective 01-Jun-2019. The carrier will operate the route with Boeing 737 MAX 8 equipment.
  • Cham Wings Airlines launched a weekly Damascus-Moscow Sheremetyevo service on 07-Nov-2018, operating with A320 aircraft.
  • Jazeera Airways reportedly plans to commence four times weekly Kuwait-Delhi service, effective 15-Dec-2018. The airline will deploy A320 aircraft on the service.
  • Pakistan International Airlines plans to commence weekly Sialkot-Sharjah service, operated with A320 aircraft, on 20-Nov-2018. Air Arabia is the sole scheduled operator on the route at present, according to OAG.

  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East weekly capacity by airline alliance (w/c 12-Nov-2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG