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Routes 2012: Abu Dhabi leads Middle East aviation growth

Routes 2012: Abu Dhabi leads Middle East aviation growth Abu Dhabi International Airport is growing into a global hub

The Abu Dhabi aviation market is set for strong growth in 2012, according to the latest OAG data.

Seat capacity is expected to increase to 9.9 million (one-way) this year, up 12 per cent from 8.9 million in 2011.

The latest numbers highlight that the capital of the United Arab Emirates is still outgrowing not just the global aviation market, but also the Middle East aviation market that expects a six per cent growth in seat capacity this year.

The number of departures from Abu Dhabi International Airport is estimated to grow by eight per cent this year, from 50,700 to 54,600.

The fact that the number of seats flown rises faster than the number of flights underlines a trend towards long-haul flights operated by larger aircraft.

Abu Dhabi’s growth as a global aviation hub is fuelled by the success of Etihad Airways, which accounts for a 71 per cent market share in 2012.

The national airline – recognised as the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards - will offer around seven million seats at Abu Dhabi International this year, an increase of 900,000 seats or 15 per cent.

Second to Etihad are Qatar, airberlin and Air India Express which each account for three per cent of the market.

The most significant market for flights to and from Abu Dhabi is Asia, with 3.5m one-way seats flown this year, followed by the Middle East with 3m seats and Europe with 2.2m.

However, the most dynamic market is currently Africa.

The continent witnesses a 25 per cent increase in seats flown (up to 672,000), with Europe and Asia being the other key growth markets (up 17 per cent and 15 per cent respectively).

The latest OAG data was released ahead of the 18th World Route Development Forum which will take place from September 29th to October 2nd 2012 in Abu Dhabi.

It is the largest global event of its kind, determining the future of air services. Hosted by Abu Dhabi Airports Company, the 2012 event is targeted to attract over 2,750 delegates from more than 120 countries, representing over 300 airlines and 750 airports.

David Stroud, executive vice president, Routes commented: “The fact that Abu Dhabi one of the global centres of aviation growth makes it more than fitting that the city hosts the world’s civil aviation community this week for its largest annual gathering.

“The decisions that will be taken at World Routes in the coming days will shape air services for years to come.”