Aircraft serving UAE set to treble in the next 20 years

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on November 17, 2019
Aircraft serving UAE set to treble in the next 20 years

(Photo by Neeraj Murali)

The outlook for the UAE's aviation sector is highly promising over the next 20 years, as the number of aircraft serving the UAE will treble, thanks to a growth in tourism and an increase in demand for more passenger seats, according to a new forecast released on Sunday.

The 2019 Airbus Global Market Forecast released on the first day of the Dubai Airshow 2019 predicted a UAE passenger traffic growth of 5.8 per cent per annum over the next 20 years. The fleet size of operators serving the UAE from all regions will nearly treble to around 1,730 aircraft by 2038 from around 630 in 2019. This includes 750 small category aircraft and 980 medium and large aircraft serving the UAE market by 2038.

The aircraft manufacturer predicted that UAE-India, UAE-Pakistan, Saudi Arabia-UAE, UAE-Egypt, and UAE-UK will be fastest growing route networks over the next 20 years. It predicted that Asia Pacific will see the highest growth, increasing 3.6 times from over 20 million passengers to over 80 million passengers by 2038, followed by the Middle East at 2.8 times growth, Europe at 2.5 times growth, and Africa at 3.4 times growth.

Today, five of the world's aviation mega cities are in the Middle East, with both Dubai and Abu Dhabi within the UAE. These will more than double to eleven over the next 20 years, to include cities such as Muscat and Kuwait City.

"The UAE is a major market in the coming years. We expect the smaller aircraft to catch up, but it will still be a balanced market. The outlook for the region is bright because the UAE or Middle East is almost at the center of the world. You can get almost anywhere in 8 to 10 hours; so the larger aircraft will serve hub-to-hub, while smaller aircraft will be feeding those aircraft through domestic traffic," said Bob Lange, senior vice president for business analysis and market forecasts.

"Tourism will continue to be a key growth sector for the Middle East with commercial aviation a key enabler. Figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council indicate that tourism's contribution to Middle Eastern GDP is nearly nine per cent today," he said during a presentation at the Dubai Airshow 2019.

Mark Martin, CEO of Martin Consulting, said that the airlines in the Middle East will continue to see some sense of a working stability. "Yes, certainly do expect [regional] airlines to announce some intent with their future operational needs [at Airshow]," he said in response to a query about order possibilities during the Airshow.

"The next 10 years will be exciting for the company and the UAE's aviation industry," said Ismail Ali Mohammed Abdulla, CEO of Strata. "Internationally, when we talk about long-term, you will read some estimates of over 25 years where the world will require as high as 40,000 aircraft. We need to balance short to medium and long-term supplies. Over the next 18 months, we see some softening in demand, especially in the wide body aircraft that is why we'll be diversifying."

In the wider Middle East region, Airbus predicted that air passenger traffic will grow at a rate of 5.6 per cent per year, which is well above the global average of 4.3 per cent per annum. Over the same period, global freight traffic will see an annual increase of 3.6 per cent in line with the average global freight traffic growth. This will stimulate a requirement for some 3,200 aircraft out of a global requirement of 39,210 new passenger and freight aircraft.

As the aviation network and traffic continues to develop in the Middle Eastern region, Airbus forecasts a need for more than 50,000 new pilots and nearly 52,000 new technicians over the next 20 years. Boeing earlier said that the Middle East will need an additional of 3,130 airplanes worth $725 billion, hiring around 231,000 workforce including pilots, technicians and cabin crew over the next two decades.

- waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

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