Seven billion people will live one direct flight from the Middle East by 2025, according to a new report outlining the aviation industry’s phenomenal growth in the region.
By the same time, total aircraft movements in the region will reach 2.3m, with an average annual growth rate of 7.6 percent.
The study, titled The World Via Gulf, shows GCC airports are expected to handle as many as 250m passengers by 2020, with Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha leading the way.
The Gulf is fast becoming the centre of global aviation, with more than 85 percent of the world’s population within reach of a direct flight. Dubai is expected to overtake London’s Heathrow to become the world’s busiest airport by 2015.
Dubai-based Emirates’ recent alliance with Australian carrier Qantas, which now has its European base in the UAE, highlighted the increasing importance of the Gulf in the aviation industry.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation expects air traffic in the region to grow 5.2 per cent annually until 2030.
In preparation for the surge in passenger traffic, Middle East airlines are expected to increase their capacity by 12.8 percent this year, according to the report.
They are also investing heavily in new aircraft, holding one-third of the global orders for Boeing 777 and Airbus A380. Emirates already has the world’s largest Airbus A380 fleet.
The expansion also is projected to create 294,000 jobs in the next 15 years, while its contribution to GDP will increase by 6.3 percent annually in real terms over the next 20 years, according to Oxford Economics.
The Middle East aviation industry contributed $129bn to the region’s GDP, with the UAE alone accounting for $39.5bn.
The report was released on Tuesday in the lead-up to the Airport Show, the largest gathering of global aviation leaders, experts and suppliers in the region, to be held in Dubai May 6-8.
“With their spirits sky high, the GCC airports and airlines are adding strength to their capabilities and capacities and have the means and motivation to become the world’s newest travel hubs, backed by oil income, geographical advantage and increasing mobility of people,” Airport Show event director Daniyal Qureshi said.