UAE airports are forecasting a 6.3% increase in the number of passengers in 2017.
The figures are based on estimates by the International Air Travel Association (IATA) which also forecasted an additional 258 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the Middle East by 2035.
John Strickland, director, JLS Consulting, was speaking about the aviation industry in the Middle East ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) which is taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 24-27 April.
Strickland said: “2017 presents a much more challenging picture for the airline industry in the Middle East, particularly in light of the recent electronics ban enforced by the US and UK. The immediate reaction was to allow passengers to use their laptops right up until boarding, but more recently Tim Clark, President of Emirates, revealed they had considered loaning laptops to passengers.
“Although oil prices are edging upwards, within the region, Emirates reported an AED786 million ($214 million) profit for the six months to September 30 2016, down 75% on the same period the previous year, and revenues also declined slightly to $11.4bn (down from $11.5bn). While Etihad has indicated a likely change in its investment strategy, particularly into other airlines.”
With a number of aviation mega-projects underway across the GCC and wider Middle East, airports are expanding slightly ahead of the curve in demand, with capacity in 2016 increasing by 13.9% and a forecast for 2017 of 10.1%. Meanwhile, Middle East passenger numbers are only expected to rise by 9% this year, a further dip compared to 2016’s 10.8% growth.
Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM said:”Aviation is integral to the Arabian Travel Market show and plays a significant role not only during the seminars but also on the exhibition floor.
“With investment in transport infrastructure, especially the expansion of airports, prevalent throughout the region, the growth in passenger numbers will continue unabated.”