Middle East bucks trend in premium air traffic

Rising premium air passenger traffic through the Middle East bucked a broadly flat performance globally, according to the latest industry data.

In its March Premium Traffic Monitor report, the International Air Travel Association (Iata) said that routes such as Europe-Middle East and Middle East- Far East gained 7.5 per cent and 6.6 per cent respectively, despite growth in premium international air travel remaining broadly flat since August 2014 globally.

“Major economies in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, continue to show robust economic performance,” said the report.

“Weakness appears to be creeping in again in other regions, with business activity in emerging markets contracting in April for the first time during the past 12 months.

This could mean a continuation of the flat trend in volumes we have been seeing since late 2014.”

Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said that the growth in premium travel in the Middle East was being spurred by the rapid expansion of Dubai International Airport and the related growth of the big regional carriers offering more options for global travel through the region.

“This has led directly to more price elasticity and perhaps a slight softening of premium fares that entices passengers to pay a little bit more to fly either first or business class,” he said.

Other regions that looked promising were Europe and the US, according to Iata.

Premium international air travel was up 7.8 per cent within Europe in March, compared to 0.4 per cent in February, according to the report.

“There are signs of a pick-up in business confidence in the euro zone which could support growth ahead,” the report added.

The US was another outstanding performer for developed markets.

Recent gains in employment and business confidence have boosted both business and leisure travel, said Iata.


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