Air travel and airfreight markets in the Middle East continue to beat global averages, as aviation authorities, especially in the GCC, make huge investments to expand aviation infrastructure.
For the first quarter of this year, when compared with Q1 2013, airlines in the Middle East achieved passenger load factor of 80.2 percent against the global average of 76.5 per cent, according to a report by International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Revenue per passenger per kilometer, one of the major parameters of success, for Middle East airlines stood at 13.3 per cent, while it was 4.12 per cent for rest of the world during the same period.
In air cargo, Middle Eastern carriers reveal that the demand expanded by 8.7 per cent in April 2014, when compared with April 2013. This is slightly lower in comparison with previous months, but is still easily the strongest growth in the region. “Carriers are benefitting from an upswing in developed economies and increased volumes from emerging markets in Asia and Africa. Capacity was up by 8.1 per cent,” reveals an IATA statement.
However, as a result of further slowdown in emerging markets, mostly China, indicators of business confidence slipped further in April 2014. “Levels still point toward growth, but at the weakest pace for the past five months. World trade growth has also slowed over recent months, while momentum in advanced economies remains intact and export orders still point to expansion. This suggests that current sluggishness in demand drivers is [most] likely [to be] temporary,” it continues.
Director-general and CEO of IATA, Tony Tyler, says: “Trading conditions for air freight are difficult. Overall, business activity and trade have shifted down a gear after a strong end to 2013. And this is taking its toll on growth in the air cargo sector. Developed economies are still maintaining post-recession momentum and the expectation is for a stronger finish to the year.”
The air cargo sector is committed to improving its attractiveness to shippers through efficiency. The goal is to reduce shipping times by 48 hours before 2020. A centerpiece of this effort is the e-freight initiative, which seeks to modernize the air cargo sector with paperless business processes. “Air cargo’s sales proposition is speed and cumbersome processes are holding us back. In March 2014, we reached a significant milestone. For the first time, the e-Air Waybill (e-AWB) was used for more than 200,000 shipments. That’s good news but we still have a long way to go,” concludes Tyler.