The aviation sector is in a turbulent field globally. The dynamic aviation growth in the Middle East for the aviation industry is significant over the last decade or so. Their supremacy and edge over the competitors on a universal level are proved dominant.
Take the case of the state-run Lufthansa Air. The labour unrest faced by the German giant did affect the reliability, profitability, and loyalty. And The Aviation operators in the Middle East like Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad could encash on Lufthansa’s failures.
The Middle East has been a real success story in the aviation industry. During the next decade, the regional jet fleet size is projected to grow about three times. The turnover projection by the MEBAA is rough $1.3 billion for them. The performance growth of these airlines is increased by 12% during last year. The economic meltdown, instability in oil price, changes of equations on the political front, terrorism, etc. have cast a shadow over the growth forecast.
The Middle East remains a promising market for business aviation in spite of the negative factors including climatic vagaries. The GDP growth is looking up- an excellent growth rate of 3.8% in the next two decades. The diversification and augmentation of the services the airline’s segments in the Middle East have introduced are quite innovative. Like the ‘Residency’ suite presented by Emirates offering ultra-luxurious flying experience to the affluent. They have also added Executive services while Qatar Airways has its Qatar Executive. In turn, Saudi Airlines has Saudia Private Aviation to cater to the wealthy. The innovative business models, such as X-Jet, which plans to launch a service, covering all aspects of support for individually owned private jets for a fixed annual fee is another one.
Still, the life is not all that cosy for the Middle East aviation operators. May be the greatest business opportunity lies in the corporate, not in the VIP market. According to MEBAA, currently up to 70% of flights performed on private jets within the Middle East are for business purposes, while luxury travel accounts for the remaining 30%. The high-net-worth individuals are still the deciding factor. However, despite the positive signs, several obstacles are limiting the potential expansion of business aviation operations in the Middle East. The bold decision to fly 16 odd hours nonstop from their hub in the Middle East to locations in the USA, for example, did fetch good patronage. The concept of making Dubai, AbuDabi, Doha, etc. as the hubs itself was a remarkable shift in the marketing models.
However, business aviation is still almost non-existent in such countries as Yemen, Syria, and Libya. The lack of the skilled labour including pilots, flight planners, engineers and air traffic controllers should be taken into account as well.
Airport congestions are yet another deterrent factor. As the airspace is mostly taken over by the military, for the commercial aviation sector, the space crunch is pinching. The availability of airspace in other countries is also not that easy. The current penetration level of these rather new entrants in the international arena is remarkable. The route allocation, choice and unified departure from respective hubs do stand advantage for the Middle East Aviation ventures; the restriction imposed on them by the Government is minimal.
They are to be more concerned about quality and safety of operations. “With this in regard, opening the market for more certified competition would help in keeping the bar high enough,” concludes an aviation expert.