By Andy Sambidge
Aviation intelligence firm OAG says emirate set to outpace Middle East growth this year
The Abu Dhabi aviation market is set for strong growth in 2012, according to the latest data from aviation intelligence firm OAG.
Seat capacity is expected to increase to 9.9m (one-way) this year, up 12 percent from 8.9m in 2011, it said in a statement.
The latest numbers show that the capital of the UAE is still outgrowing not just the global aviation market, but also the Middle East aviation market that expects a 6 percent growth in seat capacity this year.
The number of departures from Abu Dhabi International Airport is estimated to grow by 8 percent this year, from 50,700 to 54,600, OAG added.
The fact that the number of seats flown rises faster than the number of flights underlines a trend towards long-haul flights operated by larger aircraft, OAG said.
It added that Abu Dhabi's growth as a global aviation hub is fuelled by the success of Etihad Airways, which accounts for a 71 percent market share in 2012.
The national airline of the UAE will offer around 7m seats at Abu Dhabi International this year, an increase of 900,000 seats or 15 percent.
Second to Etihad are Qatar Airways, airberlin and Air India Express which each account for 3 percent of the market.
The most significant market for flights to and from Abu Dhabi is Asia, with 3.5m one-way seats flown this year, followed by the Middle East with 3m seats and Europe with 2.2m.
However, the most dynamic market is currently Africa, OAG said. The continent witnessed a 25 percent increase in seats flown (up to 672,000), with Europe and Asia being the other key growth markets (up 17 percent and 15 percent respectively).
The latest OAG data was released ahead of the 18th World Route Development Forum which will starts on September 29 in Abu Dhabi.
David Stroud, executive vice president, Routes said: "The fact that Abu Dhabi is one of the global centres of aviation growth makes it more than fitting that the city hosts the world's civil aviation community this week for its largest annual gathering.
"The decisions that will be taken at World Routes in the coming days will shape air services for years to come."