Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha airports' combined annual capacity will reach 190 million passengers by 2015 while Emirates airline, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways are expected to have 200 million passengers capacity by 2020, according to research study released on the first day of the Airport Show.
Titled "Aviation in the GCC States – Flying High Amidst Global Turbulence", the 44-page publication has been prepared for the Airport Show 2012 by Nadd Al Shiba PR and Event Management. Mohamad Bader-Eddin, Show Director at Reed Exhibitions Middle East, organisers of the Airport Show, said exhibitors will have free access to this study offering analysis and deep insights into the aviation sector of the GCC region.
The report highlighted interesting aspects of the aviation industry in the GCC and statistics about the performance of the GCC airports and airlines in addition to providing predictions and projections about the growth levels in the region until the year 2020.
It revealed that modern airport infrastructure in the region is encouraging hubing operations between the East and the West. In the near future, airlines, airports, and air traffic controls in the Middle East will need to successfully serve more than four times the 120 million passengers served this year. In 2015, Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi airports will have a combined annual capacity of 190 million passengers. Current capacity utilization in the GCC (passengers/capacity) stands at over 115 per cent.
Airbus predicts that, by 2028, the Middle East fleet will treble in size, while the Boeing forecasts that the Middle Eastern airlines will require 2,340 aircraft by 2029.By 2020, Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad will have the capacity to carry nearly 200 million passengers: four times their current capacity.
The UAE has a total of 120,000 square kilometers of airspace, with 35 international air corridors – more than 50 percent restricted to military use. To compensate for this shortage and the rapid growth of aircraft movements in the UAE airspace, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has heavily invested in adoption of new technologies to optimize use of available airspace capacity.
Aircraft movements in Dubai alone are expected to increase to 560,000 by 2020. Overall aircraft movements in the UAE are expected to grow to 620,000 in 2012 and 663,000 by 2013, including local and foreign airlines, general aviation, private operators and freighters. By 2020, over 98 million passengers and over four million tonnes of air freight will pass through Dubai airports. The expansion would see the aviation sector accounting for 22 per cent of Dubai's total employment and 32 per cent of the emirate's GDP by 2020.
Aviation industry in UAE, GCC
More than $100 billion is set for investment in airport infrastructure in the Middle East by 2025, most of it concentrated in massive airport developments in GCC nations such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The cost of airport developments in the Arab world amounted to $60 billion in infrastructure and improvement in capacities, according to Arab Air Carriers Organisation.
The UAE spent $21 billion for airport development. Arab airports will reach a capacity of 400 million passengers after the development processes are completed.
UAE companies and state agencies will invest $136.12 billion in the aviation industry over the next decade to diversify the economy and make the country a global transport hub, according to the UAE's Minister of Economy.
Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) announced investments to the tune of Dh24.8 billion to improve the Abu Dhabi airport and the capacity to 40 million passengers a year from the present 7 million. Cargo handling capacity will also increase to 2.5 million tons a year. The most expensive element of the project is the US$6.8bn Midfield Terminal, to be ready in 2015-2016.
Sharjah intends to spend Dh500 million and Fujairah Dh160 million in airport facilities and expansions.
The aviation industry generates 25 per cent of the GDP of the emirate of Dubai, either directly or indirectly. This has been forecast to increase to almost a third of Dubai's GDP by 2020. Aircraft movements in Dubai alone are expected to increase from 307,000 in 2010 to 560,000 by 2020.
Major spending was still needed in the region as the UAE stood alone as the only Gulf state with spare capacity at its airport. The current capacity utilization in the GCC stood at more than 115 percent. Bahrain had the most severe case of under-capacity, moving double its capacity in 2010. The UAE, which has seen massive airport expansions in recent years, is the only GCC country, operating below full capacity (84 percent).
Currently, there are 37 main civil airports in the GCC region. Of these, more than 30 are in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Saudi Arabia has four international airports and 22 domestic airports; its international airports account for 85 percent of passenger traffic.