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Boeing and Airbus hold a combined 90 percent of the Middle East airliner market.
The Middle East has become the world's fastest-growing aviation market and -- although it looks set to
be overtaken in growth by China -- it will remain a key focus for aircraft manufacturers, writes Ian Goold.
Middle East takes
Airbus and Boeing account for
a combined 90 percent of the
Middle East market for current
and ordered airliners and look
set to continue their dominance,
according to analysts at the
Centre for Asia Paci c Aviation (CAPA).
"Carriers have not shown interest in the
Bombardier CSeries, or the new narrowbody aircra
from emerging manufacturers: the C919 from
[China s] COMAC, [or Russia s] MS-21 from Irkut
or Sukhoi Superjet," CAPA says.
Bombardier aspires to change that situation,
promoting its new CSeries jetliner through a new
Middle East and Africa commercial-aircra regional
sales and marketing o ce in Dubai. Its e orts may
soon bear fruit, if a widely expected booking does
nally come from Qatar Airways.
e Canadian manufacturer is pursuing a share,
however small, of a market that is making itself -- both
geographically and metaphorically -- the centre of the
air transport world. Dubai-based Emirates Airline
points out that the Galapagos Islands in the southern
Paci c Ocean are the only destination beyond non-
stop reach of one of its long-range Boeing 777s.
Commercial-aircraft manufacturers agree. "A
look at the [Middle East s] location illustrates a
special and unique position, lying between three
major continents having the highest share of world s
population," says the September 2011 Airbus global
market forecast (GMF). "High air-tra c growth
has created the need for greater expansion to meet
the regional goal of becoming the world s Number 1
global aviation hub."
Aviation is at the heart of the region s plan for future
economic growth. is has been characterised by huge
infrastructure investments and airport expansion,
Airbus says. For example, Dubai is to spend US$7.8
billion on airport and airspace expansion, boosting
local capacity (available seat-kilometres/miles) by
50 percent to reach 90 million passengers per year
It is hardly a secret that, a decade ago, the Middle
East share of world air tra c was much smaller, with
the region s airlines ying mostly in local markets.
Today, such operators have become global players
and the region is the fastest-growing in the world, says
Brazilian regional-jet manufacturer Embraer.
"Air transport demand has increased an average
of 14 percent annually over the past ten years,"
Embraer says. But this expansion is not forecast to
continue : "Over the next 20 years, China will be the
fastest-growing market, with an average annual RPK
[revenue passenger-kilometre] rate of 7.5 percent,
followed by Latin America with 7.2 percent, the
Middle East with 6.9 percent, and Asia-Paci c with
Factors identi ed by Airbus as contributing to
domestic and intra-regional Middle East economic-
development trends include labour mobility among
Arab countries, population age and tourism. "One of
the main purposes of travel in the [region] is to visit
family-members abroad. Intra-regional migration and
labour mobility have a long tradition and history in
the Middle Eastern," the manufacturer says.
Remittance ows, for instance, represent the largest
source of foreign exchange for several countries, such
as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. According to the Arab
Labour Organisation, the labour market in Gulf Co-
operation Council countries has an average of 66
percent of foreign workers (92 percent in the UAE,
76 percent in Bahrain, 51 percent in Saudi Arabia, 74
percent in Oman, 62 percent in Qatar and 82 percent
Since 2000, airline capacity to, from and within the
Middle East has grown an impressive 175 percent,
according to Airbus. While this appears to compare
poorly with capacity to and from China, which has
grown almost seven-fold, the European manufacturer
says it is o en forgotten that tra c within the region
has grown 150 percent over the same period.
Boeing con rms the local trends taking place :
"While air-transport markets in the rest of the world
shrank during the global economic downturn of
2009, international air travel continued to grow for
Middle East carriers." e US manufacturer says that
this demonstrates the region s prominence in global
"International tra c continued to grow during
2010, rising 17.8 percent for Middle Eastern carriers
-- far exceeding the world average of 8.2 percent
growth," Boeing says.
According to Embraer, strong interest in business
"A look at the [Middle East's] location illustrates a special and
unique position, lying between three major continents having
the highest share of world's population." -- Airbus
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