Middle East’s Low Cost Airline Capacity Grows 18% In 2013

The Middle East’s low cost carriers are confident of further growth after a two million increase in their seat capacity this year.



Low cost carriers (LCCs) in the Middle East witnessed an overall increase in seat capacity to 13.5 million in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to a study by Amadeus.

Primed for further growth, LCCs in the Middle East recorded the third highest rise in seats globally and continued to be confident about their future prospects.

The Middle East’s low cost carriers including flydubai, Air Arabia and Al Jazeera have been charting strong expansion as travel picks up pace in the region.

Dubai’s low cost carrier flydubai has launched flights to 65 destinations since its inception in 2008, creating 46 new routes previously unserved from Dubai. The carrier began services to 15 new destinations in 2013 alone.

Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith told media this week that the demand for mid-range travel from Dubai remains largely untapped despite the massive capacity at the airport filling up.

Al Ghaith said that there are many countries within a 5.5-hour radius to which the budget carrier can fly to if there are bilateral agreements with the UAE.

Sharjah’s Air Arabia announced earlier this year that it had secured traffic rights to fly to three or four Chinese destinations starting next year.

The airline, which recently completed a decade of operation, remained bullish with a forecast of 10 to 12 per cent passenger growth this year. Air Arabia CEO Adel Ali said recently that the airline will be launching “a minimum” of five routes out of Sharjah every year.

Globally, LCCs have seen an overall increase in seat capacity of 6.8 per cent with Asia accounting for 50 per cent of the share.

Asia showed the strongest growth rates of any region with a 28 per cent overall increase to reach 129 million departing LCC seats in the first six months of 2013.

The study also found that London’s LCC seat capacity was by far the largest with nearly 15 million LCC seats in 2013.