A new Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) aviation study predicts that the Gulf region will see 250 million passengers using its airports each year by 2020 and that annual Middle East aircraft movements will reach 2.3 million five years later, when the number of people living within range of a single flight reaches some 7 billion. The study, titled “The World Via Gulf” and published for Dubai’s The Airport Show, scheduled to take place from May 6 to 8, concludes that the region’s aviation industry will create 294,000 jobs over the next two decades.
Middle East airlines, led by the “Big Three” Gulf airlines–Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways–plan to increase capacity this year by 12.8 percent. While Dubai Airports officials say that passenger throughput at Dubai International will overtake that of London Heathrow in 2015, the study goes further, predicting Dubai will become the world’s busiest hub that year.
Study author Mohammed Mannan noted that in the next seven years, the three airlines will collectively operate two-thirds of the world’s youngest aircraft, creating something of an air transport leviathan.
“Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways talk about taking on the world’s competition, and they are putting things in place truly in both letter and spirit,” he said. “Dubai is now preparing a strategic aviation plan for 2045 with the aim of doubling airport capacity to 200 million.”
As if to underscore the study’s message, Dubai Airports announced April 3 that Saudi Arabia’s Nasair and Wizz Air of Hungary would start passenger operations in the main terminal at Dubai’s second international airport, Dubai World Central (DWC), on October 27.
Operating 21 Airbus A320s and Embraer E190s, Nasair plans to fly more than 50 times a week between Dubai and Saudi destinations; it now serves 28 locations with 950 weekly flights. Low-fare carrier Wizz Air, which serves 30 countries from 16 bases across Europe, plans to link Dubai non-stop with central and eastern Europe; its 40 Airbus A320s operate more than 1,500 weekly flights to 93 destinations.
“The introduction of passenger services from DWC is the first step in the long-term development of the airport and will provide an attractive alternative to travelers,” said Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths. “We look forward to announcing additional airlines and services in the months to come.”