BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: The share of the Middle Eastern airlines in global air traffic has more than doubled in just over a decade to 9 percent from 4 percent, and much of this growth has been realised by the fast growing Gulf carriers, including Qatar Airways, said Antony Tyler, Director General and CEO of International Air Transport Association (IATA) here yesterday.
“That (growth) trend is set to continue” said Tyler, adding an example of growth prospects in 2014. “This year we expect global passenger traffic to increase by 5.8 percent. But Middle East airlines will more than double that with 13 percent growth—again driven primarily by what is happening in the Gulf.”
Tyler was here as part of the preparations for the upcoming 70th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit taking place here from June 1 to June 3. Qatar Airways is the official host of the event, which will coincide with the industry celebrating its 100th birthday of commercial aviation. He said, Doha will be the global capital of commercial aviation which will be attended by around 1,000 delegates from around the world, including CEOs from 240-member airlines representing about 84 percent of the global air traffic. This is the fourth time IATA is holding its AGM and after a gap of 17 years in the Middle East. Previous AGMs in the region were held in Cairo, Tehran and Amman in 1947, 1970 and 1997, respectively.
The commercial aviation, which started with a single passenger in January 1, 1914, and has now grown into a complex industry with a wide network of 100,000 daily flights operating on over 40,000 routes across the world. This year, IATA expects airlines to carry some 3.3 billion passengers and about 50 million tonnes of cargo that supports 57 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity.
Commenting on the financial performance, he said: “Our latest forecast is for a global industry profit of $18.7bn. That is improved from the $12.9bn profit in 2013 and from $6.1bn in 2012. It is still, however, a very thin net profit margin of just 2.5 percent (about $5.65 per passenger carried).”
According to Tyler, some of the important topics and issues that the AGM is expected to discuss, include safety performance, especially at the backdrop of missing Malaysian jet, MH370; success of the Gulf carriers and threats to that success—air traffic management—due to growing congestion in the airspace as between 40 percent and 60 percent of it is reserved for the military. The Peninsula