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Airbus forecasts Middle East aviation growth despite tailwinds

Airbus forecasts Middle East aviation growth despite tailwinds

Regional airlines are wrestling with pressurised yields and political issues

Aircraft maker Airbus has predicted 5.9 per cent average CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for Middle East airlines over the next 20 years, with inter-regional growth of 6 per cent slightly ahead of intra-regional and domestic growth (5.4 per cent).

The upbeat predictions come as regional airlines continue to wrestle with pressurised yields and political issues.

Speaking in Toulouse, Bob Lange, senior vice president, head of Market and Product Strategy for Airbus, said: “There have been short-term disturbances for all concerned but the growth you’re losing temporarily doesn’t disappear – people still travel.

“We expect this will be a level of adjustment for a year or two before the Middle East comes rebounding back. The potential for Middle East economies to build away from oil and gas-based revenues to trade, tourism, commerce and manufacturing will continue.”

Fuelled by 3.4 per cent real GDP regional growth, Airbus anticipates 2,526 new deliveries in the next two decades with single-aisle planes accounting for the lion’s share (1.082), significantly more than demand for 402 Very Large Aircraft (VLA).

For now, Emirates remains pivotal to Airbus’ VLA sector and superjumbo programme – perfectly illustrated by the sight of three A380s parked opposite. But it remains to be seen whether new orders will materialise for the ‘A380plus’ concept, which offers fuel-saving winglets, up to 80 more seats and the option of a nine-abreast premium economy section, and is widely believed to be critical to securing the progamme’s future. Emirates’ milestone 100th delivery is scheduled in Hamburg early next month.

Airbus’ Middle East forecast includes Iran, which is widely expected to grow its aviation industry despite current US tensions, but Lange didn’t see any threat to Gulf carriers.

“For a country which has been starved of the potential to grow air traffic, I’m not sure their priority is to go head-to-head with other ME carriers but grow their own industry. The density of population, topography and potential to grow is tremendous – in strongest growth circles, Iran could mirror Turkey.”

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