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ATM 2020: Low-cost aviation set for Middle East boom

ATM 2020: Low-cost aviation set for Middle East boom

Low-cost carriers are driving growth in the Middle East aviation market, recording a 9.3 per cent increase in seat capacity in 2019, according to CAPA Centre for Aviation.

Indeed, the share of total seat capacity held by low-cost carrier across the Middle East increased from 14.9 per cent in 2018 to 16.5 per cent 2019.

Over the next 12 months, low-cost carriers are predicted to continue to chip away at their bigger rivals’ market share, with Saudia-subsidiary, flyadeal, leading this trend.

The carrier became the region’s largest low-cost airline by seats in 2019, recording a capacity growth of 78.1 per cent, according to the latest CAPA data.

Arabian Travel Market will seek to showcase this first-hand, with low-cost carriers including flydubai, flynas and flyadeal confirmed for the 2020 edition of the show.


Danielle Curtis, exhibition director, Middle East, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Situated within eight-hours of two-thirds of the world’s population and located between the major cities of Europe in the north-west, the fast-developing east African cities in the west and India and Pakistan in the east – the Middle East is the ideal location to set up a budget airline, attracting passenger traffic from within the region as well as from across much of the eastern hemisphere.”

When compared to other parts of the world, there looks to be plenty of scope for growth for the Middle East’s low-cost carriers.

According to Boeing, a third of short-haul traffic globally is on no-thrills airlines, led by south-east Asia, where the figure is 62 per cent.

However, in the Middle East at present, this figure lies at 13 per cent.

Supporting low-cost carriers’ potential for growth in region, in October 2019, Air Arabia and Etihad Aviation Group announced strategic plans to launch a new budget carrier.

Based out of Abu Dhabi Airport, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, will become the fifth airline to operate in the UAE – and the capital’s first low-cost airline.

In the same month, Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet announced plans to launch an airline that will be based at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport following the signing of a memorandum with the airport to start direct flights between RAK and New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Wizz Air, a Hungarian low-cost carrier, and Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company announced in December that they had reached an ‘agreement in principle’ to set up a new airline based in the UAE capital.

Focusing on routes to destinations in Europe, with plans to branch out towards India and Africa over the longer term, the new low-cost carrier’s first flight is expected to take off in the second half of 2020. 

Curtis, said: “The rise of low-cost carriers in the region appears to be bringing some fresh momentum to the aviation industry, with research predicting half of airline traffic to be on routes of less than 2,000 miles by 2038, a trend which Airbus described as ‘fertile territory for the low-cost carrier business model’ in their most recent report.”

More Information

Arabian Travel Market takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 19th-22nd.

For more information visit the official website here.