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.

Our regular round-up delivers some of the latest key aviation and travel news stories from across the Middle East region.

IATA: Jordan passenger traffic to grow 4% p/a for next 20 years
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on the government of Jordan to continue to focus on aviation as a strategic enabler of the country’s economic growth and development. The aviation already supports close to USD2.2 billion in economic activity and 70,000 jobs in Jordan, including the catalytic benefits of tourism enabled by air transport. IATA reported eight million passengers travel to and from Jordan per annum, a figure that is expected to increase by 4% per annum over the next 20 years. IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in order for Jordan to facilitate this projected growth, it must invest in airport capacity and infrastructure, recognise the IATA Operational Safety Audit and ensure regulations meets Smarter Regulation objectives.

Emirates SkyCargo to commence Bogota service in partnership with Avianca
Emirates SkyCargo will commence weekly Bogota service in partnership with Avianca on 16-Jan-2019. Avianca will sell capacity on the return sector from Bogota to Maastricht and the airlines are working on a deeper partnership covering Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Emirates SkyCargo will operate Bogota service with Boeing 777F equipment, offering capacity of more than 100 tonnes. Bogota will be the carrier’s sixth cargo destination in South America. Emirates SVP cargo planning and freighters Hiran Perera commented: “South America is one of our main focus regions and we believe that there is a lot of potential for further growth in demand for air cargo capacity in this region”.

Kuwait Airways opens new Bayan lounge at Kuwait International Airport
Kuwait Airways opened (07-Jan-2019) the new Bayan lounge in terminal 4 at Kuwait International Airport. The lounge is dedicated to first and business class passengers. Meanwhile, KAC’s Chairman Yousef Al-Jassem stated that opening the new premium lounge is one of the corporation’s latest accomplishments and part of its efforts to enhance its various services. The highly efficient lounge was constructed and completed within just 70 days, Jassem noted, adding the project was implemented in coordination with the South Korean-based Incheon International Airport Corporation.

News Brief

  • Middle East Airlines (MEA) has awarded a 10 year contract to Amadeus for distribution services. Amadeus will drive MEA’s economies of scale, increase its technological efficiencies and support its distribution strategy.
  • Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing has initiated the release of approximately USD68 million in bank guarantees, furnished by tourism related service providers. This coincides with a deregulatory that permits the travel and tour industry to inject instant liquidity, thus lowering the cost of doing business and making investments.
  • Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free has opened the first Qatar Airways retail store in concourse A at Doha Hamad International Airport. Complete with burgundy lighting, curved walls, a Business Class desk and an A380 First Class seat to experience, the shop is specially designed to enable customers to feel as though they have stepped on board a Qatar Airways aircraft.

DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East weekly international seats (as at 14-Jan-2019)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG

Fleet Development

  • flynas CEO Bander Al-Mohanna stated the airline is set to receive 12 A320neo aircraft in 2019, according to the Saudi Gazette.
  • Alpha Star Aviation received one ATR 72-600 (MSN 1541) aircraft.
  • Emirates Airline plans to take delivery of six new A380 aircraft during FY2019/20. The airline also plans to retire seven Boeing 777 aircraft during the same period.

CAPACITY SNAPSHOT: Middle East monthly system capacity changesSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

Route Update

  • Hainan Airlines has filed an application with CAAC to launch twice weekly Xian-Dubai service from Oct-2019.
  • flydubai plans to suspend Dubai International-Moscow Sheremetyevo service on 04-Feb-2019, according to the CAPA Route Changes Database. The carrier instead plans to increase frequencies to Moscow Vnukovo.
  • Pakistan International Airlines reportedly plans to commence weekly Multan-Sharjah service with A320 aircraft on 20-Feb-2019. Air Arabia and airblue also operate the route, according to OAG.
  • Emirates Airline has confirmed plans to deploy A380 equipment on Dubai-Boston (replaces Boeing 777-300ER, effective from 01-Jun-2019 to 30-Sep-2019 and 01-Dec-2019 to 31-Jan-2020) and Dubai-Glasgow replaces twice daily 777-300ER service, effective 16-Apr-2019 to 30-May-2019).
  • Kish Air is scheduled to resume Kish-Gorgan service. The carrier will operate the service with Fokker 100 equipment.
  • Gulf Air plans to launch five times weekly Bahrain-Abha and Bahrain-Tabuk services on 01-Sep-2019, reports AirlineRoute.
  • Air Arabia plans to operate four times weekly Sharjah-Belgrade service with A320 equipment, effective 28-Jun-2019.
  • Armenia Airlines plans to resume twice weekly Beirut service from 19-Apr-2019. The carrier suspended Yerevan-Beirut service at the end of Oct-2018, according to OAG.