The Middle East’s steady route to becoming a global air travel hub

Malek Nejjai

Chief Diversity Officer, Amadeus IT Group

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Our recent analysis 300 world super routes attract 20% of all travel reveals some fascinating trends in the Middle East. The region is becoming a strong connecting hub with its three main airports of Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai all showing high connecting traffic volumes. On average 50% of travellers using these airports connect to an onward flight, exemplifying the role they play when interconnecting regions of the world. In fact, the three airports together serve roughly 15% of all air traffic volume that flows between Asia and Europe and from Europe to the South West Pacific, both of which contain a lot of well flown routes which are growing quickly.


If we take the analysis a step further we can see that overall traffic volume between Europe and Asia is growing by approximately 7% year over year, which is significant. However, traffic volume between Europe and Asia that is routed via the three key airports of Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi grew by approximately 20% between 2011 and 2012. What this tells us is that in the future we can expect the Middle East to act as a connecting hub for evermore of this type of air travel. The 15% figure we referenced earlier looks set to grow steadily and recent partnerships such as Emirates and Qantas or Easyjet and Skywards, Emirates’ award-winning frequent flyer programme are just two very good examples of the role this region is playing as an international hub.

In addition, the UNWTO barometer revealed that the Middle East together with Africa saw the highest growth in departures in the last four months of the year 2012 (+6.7%) as well as the full year (+9.5%). International air travel to destinations within the region also picked up strongly with growth for the full year expected to reach 16%.These very positive results point to the region’s increasing importance in the global economy as well as highlighting the active nature of its airlines and the air travel industry.

It is evident that the Middle East is a region that is rapidly changing and gradually increasing in competitiveness in the air traffic scenario. Our Air Traffic Intelligence analysisshows that there is a huge opportunity in the region to further develop the airline industry. Winners in this race to provide air travel services will be among those organisations that increasingly base their strategic decisions on data, and the insights it can yield.


Middle East, United Nations, Research