The Middle East’s commercial airline industry comes under the microscope at Arabian Travel Market 2011, with dedicated aviation seminars analysing trends, addressing challenges and highlighting opportunities.
From rising fuel prices to regional unrest, global consolidation and the post-recession economic climate, expert commentators will discuss and debate the most important issues and their regional and global implications.
Arabian Travel Market is one of the most popular for airline businesses, among the leading international exhibitions in terms of the high number of airline exhibitors it attracts.
“Despite the lingering effects of the economic downturn impacting many industries, along with unrest in some parts of the region, the Gulf’s aviation sector is displaying strong growth,” said Mark Walsh, Group Exhibition Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, which is the organiser of Arabian Travel Market 2011
Among the senior industry representatives presenting during the seminars is Tim Clark, CEO, Emirates Airline. Among other topics, he will be commenting on the tsunami disaster in Japan and the impact this is having on global airline operations, particularly within the Asia Pacific region.
In January 2011, Dubai International, one of the region’s largest airports, announced another record year, with the airport’s 2010 passenger traffic reaching 47.2 million, up 15.3% on 2009 figures of 40.9 million.
Emirates Airline reported profits of $925 million for the first half of the 2010-2011 financial year, up 350% on a year earlier. It also plans to expand its fleet of 152 aircraft, which includes 15 Airbus A380s, with 200 more jets on order over the next eight years.
Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier, Etihad Airways, reported almost 30% revenue growth in January this year, to almost $3 billion, while passenger numbers climbed 13% to just over seven million.
“As an industry event that draws exhibitors and delegates from the region and the globe, Arabian Travel Market provides a unique networking opportunity for industry professionals to share experiences and build new partnerships with their peers,” said John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting.
In 2010 and 2011, airlines from the Gulf have continued to perform strongly, having remained profitable throughout the recent challenging period, with the region’s big three carriers of Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airway and Etihad Airlines posting strong growth figures.
According to Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, the general secretary of the association of European Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, have more widebody planes on order than are currently in service by all US airlines combined, an indication of their potential global market dominance.
Additionally, the smaller niche players have continued to expand, with seminar panelist, Oman Air having added routes and Gulf Air, slowly returning to strength after the recent domestic upheaval.
“The Middle East is well-placed as a global hub location, which contributes to the strength of the industry. As Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have shown, with competitive pricing and high quality service, they can create demand and have continued to operate profitably,” added Strickland.
Adel Ali, CEO of Air Arabia, has just announced 2010 profits of $84 million and has already accepted delivery of the first of 44 aircraft that will tale the low cost carrier to over 50 planes by 2016. Ali will be providing his perspective on the low-cost airline model within the region, with the sector proving remarkably resilient and new carriers having entered the space in recent years.
On a more microeconomic level, the aviation seminar will examine trends in the type of aircraft selected for commercial fleets, including the Airbus A380 at the long awaited competitor from Boeing, the 787.
The outfitting of aircraft interiors, including the viability of both first and business classes in the post-recession marketplace and the viability of premium cabins on short-haul flights are also on the agenda.
The Seminar Programme at Arabian Travel Market 2011 is sponsored by Mexico.
Arabian Travel Market is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai. Now approaching its eighteenth year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world. In 2010, Arabian Travel Market featured 2,236 exhibitors across more than 20,000 square metres, attracting more than 22,000 visitors.