Middle East carriers post robust growth in October
Middle East airlines recorded the strongest growth in passenger traffic at 7.7 percent in October over the same month last year, against a capacity increase of 9.5 percent. Load factors for the region’s carriers stood at 74.8 percent, according to the latest statistics by the aviation trade body the International Air Transport Association. Supporting the growth data are the latest Dubai International Airport numbers.
Despite economic uncertainty and flagging consumer confidence in Europe and the US, traffic at Dubai’s main airport surged 7.3 percent in October to 4.3 million passengers over the same month last year, according to the latest traffic statistics released by Dubai Airports.
The airports body that owns and manages the operation and development of both of Dubai’s airports — Dubai International and Dubai World Central — said yesterday in a statement that in the first 10 months of the year, passenger numbers totalled 41,855,561 at Dubai International, a 7.7 percent increase over the same period last year.
Russia and CIS ( up 33.9 percent), the GCC (up 29..9 percent) as a result of Saudi Arabian traffic growth, North America (up 16.1 percent) and South America (up 15.4 percent) emerged as the strongest markets in October in terms of passenger growth, according to Dubai Airports, as aircraft movements increased 7.2 percent over the same month last year. “New routes, additional frequencies and extra capacity continue to drive passenger traffic growth at the Dubai hub,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.
International air travel, meanwhile, showed 4.6 percent growth last month over October 2010 according to IATA — in line with an overall upward trend, “albeit at a slowing pace”, as international passenger load factors stood at 77.6 percent, down from 79.5 percent in the same month last year.
North American carriers, meanwhile, saw the biggest traffic decline of 1.9 percent in international passenger traffic while capacity remained almost the same as in October last year, owing to capacity cuts.
Commenting on the trends for the coming year, Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said the economic prospects for 2012 are uncertain. “Now is the time for governments to use aviation strategically in their efforts to put economies back on track,” Tyler said.
Cargo demand slips
Cargo demand last month slipped 4.7 percent from the same month last year, indicating troubled times for the aviation industry. “Air freight is among the first sectors to suffer when businesses confidence declines. “Since the middle of the year, the market has shrunk by almost 5 percent,” Tyler said. He added that while business confidence has declined considerably in recent months, industrial output has not. But in anticipation of weaker economic activity, there is a shift to cheaper and slower modes of transport.
Abu Dhabi Etihad Airways yesterday urged all passengers booked on flights to or from Damascus to contact the airline if they wanted to change their travel plans.
The Arab League sanctions include a ban on commercial flights between Syria and member states. The league said a decision on when the ban begins would be made within a week. Etihad is one of four airlines flying between the UAE and Syria and operates daily flights to and from Damascus using an A320 aircraft capable of carrying up to 162 passengers. “We are currently reviewing our capacity on the route to ensure we can help as many of our passengers as possible should they wish to amend their travel plans,” CEO James Hogan said. “We are closely monitoring the situation in Syria and will continue to fly to Damascus for as long as we are permitted to,” Hogan said.