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Middle East leads growth in long-haul airline seats in September, says OAG

Middle East leads growth in long-haul airline seats in September, says OAG

The Middle East will see the strongest growth of any global region in available long-haul airline seats in September, adding 22,000 extra seats per day, according to the latest statistics from OAG, the market leader in flight schedule data.

The OAG FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) report for September 2012 reveals an expected 5% growth in available seats to and from the Middle East, compared to September 2011, with 13.1 million anticipated in the month. Meanwhile, flight operations to and from the region are expected to increase by 4% to 59,771. 

Rob Shaw, Director of Analytics at OAG, says: “Dubai is expected to lead all major global hubs in September in terms of growth, with an 8% increase in flights and a 12% increase in seats, a disparity partly reflecting Emirates’ adoption of the Airbus A380. However, Abu Dhabi is enjoying the fruits of its own expansion strategy and will remain the fastest growing hub in the Middle East, with a 16% increase in seat capacity to 1,661,512 compared to September 2011. Doha and Riyadh will also see strong growth in seat capacity of 10% and 5% respectively. 

“The Middle East remains at the vanguard of long-haul air traffic growth globally. While this expansion in part reflects the ambitious growth targets of the ‘superconnector’ airlines – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways – airport infrastructure investments across the region continue to make the Middle East attractive to other long-haul carriers.”

In contrast to the region’s long-haul growth, air traffic within the Middle East is expected to decrease in September, with a 3% drop in both flights and seats. Low-cost carriers (LCCs) are expected to increase their share of intra-Middle Eastern seat capacity to 15%, an increase of 12% over September 2011.


Meanwhile, LCC flights in the region are expected to grow by 16% in the month, with 856 extra flights compared to the same period in 2011. 

Shaw says: “LCCs are increasing their market share in the Middle East. Not only are they achieving robust growth within regional flights and seats, but low-cost operations are also becoming more prominent in long-haul traffic. In September, LCCs are expected to achieve 18% growth in flights and seats to and from the Middle East compared to 2011, equivalent to 1,048 extra flights and 182,139 additional seats.”