Mideast civil aviation demand in April lags behind global growth

Middle East region, the International Air Transport Association

Middle East region, the International Air Transport AssociationDUBAI, May 31 (Xinhua) — Global passenger traffic data for April showed that demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose by 3.9 percent year on year in the Middle East region, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday.

IATA said in a statement that the Middle East registered in April “healthy growth on the key routes to/from Asia and Europe, as well as continuing signs of recovery on the market segment to and from North America.”

The April international air passenger demand rose by 6.2 percent compared to April 2017, which was down from a 12-month high of 9.7 percent in March, the IATA said.

IATA added that annual comparisons are likely to become more favorable in coming months, “owing to the disruptions caused by the proposed travel bans to the U.S. and the since-lifted ban on large portable electronic devices in the year-ago period.”

Last year’s temporary ban on large portable electronic devices in the aircraft included large-sized electronic devices ban on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in eight Middle Eastern countries.

The ban was lifted in July last year. Meanwhile, airliners face new headwinds in the shape of rising operation costs.

“Increase in airline cost inputs, most notably fuel prices, means that we are unlikely to see increased stimulation from lower fares in 2018, compared to previous years,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO on the outlook for 2018.

Nevertheless, some carriers in the Middle East remain on an expansion spree.

Earlier in the week, United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier Emirates Airline announced it launched a new daily route from Dubai to London Stansted on June 8, 2018, increasing the number of flights connecting Dubai and London to 10 per day.

Emirates will also upgrade its service from Dubai to Hamburg, Germany from Oct. 29 by deploying an Airbus A380 “Superjumbo.”

Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air will add from June onward Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh and Alexandria, as well as Morocco’s Casablanca and Azerbaijan’s Baku to its network, said Gulf Air CEO Kresimir Kucko said earlier in the month at the Gulf Gateway Investor Forum in Manama.

“Gulf Air will increase its flights during the peak summer period by 200 more weekly flights compared to 2017,” said Kucko.

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