The Middle East aviation sector is poised for significant, sustained growth, says the Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia, the first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC) in the Middle East and North Africa. Currently accounting for eight per cent of the global air transport industry, Middle East-based airlines are collectively growing at 10% annually, double the global average of five per cent, according to the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) latest report.
Pointing out that, worldwide, one in every eight commercial flights is now flown by an LCC, Adel Ali adds that the Middle East will experience especially strong growth in the low-cost sector in the coming years.
‘The Middle East is home to the youngest fleet in the world, with a total of more than 600 aircraft, and has the greatest number of aircraft on order anywhere in the world,’ said Ali. ‘From the Gulf to the Levant, the sector is also experiencing unprecedented demand, with load factors averaging nearly 80%.
‘The region is currently experiencing enormous economic growth,’ he added, ‘and there is a strong correlation between such growth and increased passenger traffic. Consider the demographics of the region, where 100 million people are under the age of 24 and millions more are expatriates, and it becomes clear that air travel will increasingly be seen as a necessity rather than a luxury. Indeed, between now and 2020, the Middle East is forecast to lead world passenger traffic growth, with current travel demand up 18%.’
While demand is increasing across the sector, Ali said that the outlook for LCCs is bright and that of Air Arabia. ‘By adapting the globally proven LCC model to the unique needs of this region and focusing on providing the highest level of service at the most affordable fares, Air Arabia continues to be the regional low-cost leader.
’ Air Arabia is experiencing record growth - in passenger numbers, aircraft utilisation and profits - and setting the market benchmark,’ Ali said, ‘We recently placed an order for up to 49 additional aircraft, and Together with our peers in the industry, we will continue to focus on meeting the needs of this vibrant, diverse region as we enter an exciting new phase in its history.’