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.

  • Qatari government ‘violated’ agreement between US and Qatar with Air Italy expansion into the USA, says lobby group Partnership for Open & Fair Skies
  • Jazeera expects to make decision on aircraft order ‘very quickly’ after Airbus, Boeing submit RFPs
  • Abu Dhabi Airport launches interactive, energy harvesting walkway
  • Kuwait DGCA cancels Wataniya Airways AOC after airline fails to make progress: report
  • Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport’s new terminal to come online by Mar-2019
  • New private terminal inaugurated at Riyadh King Khaled International Airport
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East international seats by week (as at 10-Dec-2018)

Qatari government ‘violated’ agreement between US and Qatar with Air Italy expansion into the USA, says lobby group Partnership for Open & Fair Skies
Partnership for Open & Fair Skies says Air Italy’s plans to launch services from Milan to San Francisco and Los Angeles, supported by Qatar Airways, demonstrates a “stunning lack of respect” by the government of Qatar for President Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Partnership for Open & Fair Skies campaign manager Scott Reed said Qatar Airways has “received over USD25 billion in documented subsidies from its government owner, in violation of the Open Skies agreement with the US”, adding Qatar has “violated” an US-Qatar agreement established in early 2018 that acknowledged Qatar Airways “would not launch future ‘fifth freedom’ flights to the US”. Mr Reed noted Qatar Airways has “exploited its investment in Air Italy to create a loophole and dodge this pledge”. As previously reported by CAPA, 11 US senators issued a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao expressing their concerns over the matter.


Jazeera expects to make decision on aircraft order ‘very quickly’ after Airbus, Boeing submit RFPs
Jazeera Airways CEO Rohit Ramachandran reportedly stated the airline is looking to make a decision for the purchase of up to 25 narrowbody aircraft by the end of Feb-2019. Airbus and Boeing will be reportedly asked by the airline to submit RFPs for the supply of 20 to 25 aircraft, after which Jazeera plans to make a decision “very quickly”. Mr Ramachandran said: “The manufacturer that is able to demonstrate the best value to Jazeera will get the order”.


Abu Dhabi Airport launches interactive, energy harvesting walkway
Abu Dhabi International Airport announced the launch of an interactive walkway which converts the footsteps of travellers into off-grid electricity and data. Abu Dhabi Airports commissioned Pavegen, in collaboration with Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) to construct a 16sqm energy harvesting walkway, connecting two terminals within the airport.


Kuwait DGCA cancels Wataniya Airways AOC after airline fails to make progress: report
Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has cancelled the AOC for Wataniya Airways. The authority reportedly cancelled the AOC after finding the airline failed to make progress on recommendations to reform its operations and improve services, following a deadline period of three months.


Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport’s new terminal to come online by Mar-2019
Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport reportedly plans to bring the Salam terminal online by Mar-2019, with a capacity to transport five million passengers per annum. The airport will reportedly allocate domestic operations to the new terminal.


New private terminal inaugurated at Riyadh King Khaled International Airport
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) inaugurated a new private aviation terminal at Riyadh King Khaled International Airport on 10-Dec-2018, forming an extension of a series of development projects and modernisation of the country’s airport system. The 3000sqm terminal has a capacity of handling 100 passengers per hour.


Route Updates

  • flydubai plans to resume daily Dubai-Chittagong service on 20-Jan-2019, reaffirming its commitment to “underserved destinations”. Emirates will codeshare on this route as part of the Emirates-flydubai partnership announced in Jul-2017.
  • Gulf Air has withdrawn plans to operate five times weekly services from Bahrain to Abha and Tabuk, effective Dec-2018, according to AirlineRoute.
  • Pegasus Airlines plans to launch daily Istanbul-Sharjah service from 13-Dec-2018, marking its third destination in UAE.
  • Air India reportedly plans to commence Lucknow-Delhi-Al Najaf service in early 2019, according to reports. The airline will be the sole scheduled operator on the Delhi-Al Najaf section of the route.

  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East international seats by week (as at 10-Dec-2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG