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.

  • Etihad Airways launches hand baggage only fare
  • Dubai Airport surpasses eight million passengers in Jul-2018, driven by eastern Europe growth
  • Saudia and Garuda Indonesia expand codeshare network
  • Emirates says Osaka load factor is outperforming its two Tokyo services
  • Etihad Airways and Modo to create loyalty point redemption solution
  • ROUTE UPDATE: latest route launches and announcements
  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East largest airports by departure cargo payload (w/c 03-Sep-2018)

Etihad Airways launches hand baggage only fare
Etihad Airways has launched a new hand baggage ‘Deal Fare’ scheme in selected destinations, which enables passengers to purchase lower fares in economy class if no checked baggage is required. The airline’s CEO Robin Kamark said the new scheme allows passengers to “select the travel option that best meets their needs”. The ‘Deal Fare’ includes a complimentary carry-on baggage allowance of 7kg and is available on flights between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Azerbaijan.


Dubai Airport surpasses eight million passengers in Jul-2018, driven by eastern Europe growth
Dubai International Airport again surpassed the eight million passenger milestone in Jul-2018. Passenger numbers in Jul-2018 totalled 8,207,987, up +1.8% compared to 8,065,789 recoded in Jul-2017. Year to date passenger traffic reached 51,947,092 up +1.6% compared to 51,120,057 recorded during the first seven months in 2017. Eastern Europe was the fastest growing region in Jul-2018 in terms of growth rate, with traffic increasing 24.4% year-on-year. The CIS region reported 18.34% growth, with major contributions from the Russian market and destinations such as Bishkek, Baku and Almaty among others. India retained its position as the top destination country with 1,032,302 passengers, followed by Saudi Arabia (583,975 passengers) and the UK (581,557 passengers). London, with 358,201 passengers, topped the list of the most popular destinations served from DXB by traffic volume in July, followed by Kuwait (221,696), Mumbai (209,205) and Riyadh (200,411).


Saudia and Garuda Indonesia expand codeshare network
Saudia and Garuda Indonesia have expanded their codeshare agreement to include services operated by both airlines to destinations in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia and services to Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Both airlines are SkyTeam members. The additional route will open up additional flight options and reduced journey times by flying with the two carriers, in addition to making it even easier for loyalty card members of each respective airline to accrue and redeem miles for future travel.


Emirates says Osaka load factor is outperforming its two Tokyo services
Emirates Airline’s Japan GM Salem Al Marri has said load factor on Dubai-Osaka Kansai service exceeds that of its Tokyo services. Emirates replaced Boeing 777-300ER Dubai-Tokyo Narita service with A380 equipment in 2017 and deployed 777-300ER on Dubai-Tokyo Haneda in summer 2018, with plans to deploy A380 on Dubai-Osaka Kansai service, replacing the 777-300ER, from 28-Oct-2018. Load factor on the three services is averaging around 80%, according to Mr Al Marri. He also said the carrier plans to boost its brand strength in the Japan market to the level of ‘lifestyle brand’.


Etihad Airways and Modo to create loyalty point redemption solution
Etihad Airways and payments technology start up Modo have announced a partnership to create “a unique loyalty solution for the airline industry”, as part of the FinTech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge. The solution will focus on the redemption of Etihad Guest miles and will be showcased in Sep-2018. The solution will include a ‘Pay with Miles’ widget on the airline’s website. Modo provides a cloud based utility to connecting payment systems without requiring changes to the systems and enables consumers to use loyalty points to check out at the point of sale.


Route Updates

  • ATA Airlines has launched twice weekly Tehran-Kazan service, operating with 180 seat Airbus A320 aircraft. The service will operate until 25-Oct-2018.
  • Emirates Airline is deploying A380 equipment on one of three daily Dubai-Brisbane frequencies. The remaining frequencies will continue to operate with Boeing 777-300ER equipment.

  • DATA SNAPSHOT: Middle East largest airports by departure cargo payload (w/c 03-Sep-2018)Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG