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Sun 24 Dec 2017 03:48 PM

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2018 Predictions: Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai

Transport: aviation provides reason for optimism

2018 Predictions: Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai
Opening the skies: the aviation sector is vital to regional economic success

As we look ahead to 2018, I feel a great sense of confidence in the opportunities that the new year will present. Dubai recently announced its largest ever budget for 2018, with around $15bn set to be spent. Plans for investment in social services and infrastructure will all take great strides over the coming 12 months.

The focus is, of course, Expo 2020, part of Dubai Plan 2021, designed to position the UAE at the heart of societal and cultural developments.

Across the region, we are also seeing states implementing clear programmes to guide their long-term growth. Saudi Arabia has its Vision 2030, and the positive impact of this agenda will likely become increasingly clear in 2018.

Behind all of this is a marked shift towards stability and progress across the region. Iraq has taken major strides towards peace – to the extent where we have started flying over the region once again – and there is light at the end of the tunnel for Syria.

From a financial perspective, Middle Eastern economies are being boosted by the revival of the oil price. Over the past few years, the collapse in prices dealt a heavy blow for the regional aviation industry.

In recent times, the success of our industry has proven to be a bellwether for the fortunes of Middle Eastern business more broadly. When the oil price plunged in 2014, decreased prosperity, revised growth indications and heightened instability noticed in the skies were soon replicated on the ground.  But with the oil price having gained significant ground in the latter part of 2017, we are seeing growth return to local economies.

This has led to rising revenues and a clear opportunity for dynamic carriers to support the growth narrative. At flydubai, we work closely with the government to promote trade and tourism across the region. This means growing our presence to a new destinations across our network, including Eastern and Southern Europe and Africa. Our new partnership with Emirates has enjoyed a significant response from passengers who recognise the benefits of travelling across the world on a single ticket.

In November, we announced a $27bn order for 225 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to meet future demand across a flydubai network that is home to more than 2.5bn people.

The earliest new additions to our fleet have already taken to the skies and these aircraft and others that follow will provide a gateway and be called into the service of countless Middle Eastern football fans headed for the football stadiums of Russia.

So we have much to look forward to in the coming year. We know how important aviation is to the business landscape, and we’re ready to lead the charge – not just for Dubai, but for the region as a whole. There is still work to do, make no mistake – but we are feeling quietly confident about the road ahead.