MIDDLE EAST: ME carriers to see losses double in ’09

The Middle East aviation industry should brace for further turbulence this year, with the region’s airlines poised to rack up combined losses of $200 million this year – twice the amount they lost in 2008, according to the International AirTransport Association (IATA). IATA warned that growth in regional passenger and air cargo traffic in 2009 […]


The Middle East aviation industry should brace for further turbulence this year, with the region’s airlines poised to rack up combined losses of $200 million this year – twice the amount they lost in 2008, according to the International AirTransport Association (IATA).

IATA warned that growth in regional passenger and air cargo traffic in 2009 would “slow to a crawl” of only about 1.2 per cent due to the global recession. At the same time, IATA forecasts that capacity for Middle Eastern airlines would swell this year by 4.9 per cent, far outpacing demand and squeezing the carriers’ load factors and profits as a result.

Dr Majdi Sabri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, urged the region’s airlines to be cautious about their expansion plans, arguing that over capacity would become a critical issue.

The Middle East had led all regions of the world in terms of traffic growth in 2008 – 6.3 per cent for freight and 7 per cent for passenger and compared to respective growths of 10.1 and 18.1 per cent respectively in 2007. In contrast, global cargo traffic dropped by four per cent and global passenger traffic increased by just 1.6 per cent in 2008.