Growth in the aviation market in the Middle East is being driven by low-cost carriers, with an increase in seat capacity of as much as 9.3% last year, statistics from the CAPA Centre for Aviation have revealed.

The share of total seat capacity throughout the Middle East of low-cost carriers increased from 14.9% in 2018 to 16.5% last year.

A bigger share of airline passengers in the region is now choosing to fly no-frills in more affordable and modest cabin surroundings.

Low-cost carriers are expected to keep chipping away at the market share of their rivals over the course of the next year.

flyadeal, the low-cost carrier subsidiary of Saudi Arabia, is leading the trend and became the biggest airline in the region in terms of seats as of last year.

A capacity growth of as much as 78.1% was also recorded by the airline in 2019, the most recent data from CAPA shows.

This trend is also being witnessed first-hand by the Arabian Travel Market, which is staged at Dubai World Trade Centre in the United Arab Emirates from 19th to 22nd April.

The 2020 edition of the event has already confirmed attendance by the likes of flydubai, flyadeal, and flynas.

The exhibition director in the Middle East for the Arabian Travel Market, Danielle Curtis, says that the region is perfect for setting up budget airlines in order to attract passengers not only from the region but also from most of the Eastern Hemisphere.

In comparison to other areas in the world, the Middle East also has a lot of room for further growth for low-cost carrier airlines.

Boeing says that 33% of short-haul traffic internationally is via such no-frills airlines, with Southeast Asia leading the pack with a figure of 62%.

However, the figure is just 13% at present in the Middle East.

Supporting the potential for growth for low-cost carriers in the region, in October 2019, Etihad Aviation Group and Air Arabia announced plans to launch a new budget carrier that would be based out of the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Airport.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will be the fifth airline to operate in the country and the first low-cost airline to operate in the UAE capital.

The same month also saw the announcement of plans by Indian low-cost carrier Spice to launch a new airline based out of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport after it signed a MoU with the airport to begin direct flights between the emirate and New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air made a joint announcement with Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company in December that an agreement had been reached in principle for the creation of a new airline based in the nation’s capital.

The new low-cost carrier will focus on routes to European destinations with long-term plans for Africa and India, with the first flight expected to take place in the second half of the year.

Anyone who flies to or from the UAE or elsewhere in the Middle East should take out travel insurance to guard against the kinds of financial problems that can be caused by lost luggage or cancelled flights.


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