Low-cost carriers continue to grow across the Middle East

Arabian Travel Market predicts LCCs will chip away at its larger carriers’ market share

In October last year, Air Arabia and Etihad announced plans to launch a new budget carrier
In October last year, Air Arabia and Etihad announced plans to launch a new budget carrier

Low-cost carriers (LCC) across the Middle Eastern aviation industry are continuing to grow, chipping away at the market share owned by larger carriers.

As Arabian Travel Market (ATM) noted, LCCs total seat capacity in the region rose from 14.9% in 2018 to 16.5% the following year.

ATM highlighted Saudia’s LCC subsidiary, flyadeal, which has became the region’s largest airline by seats last year. According to CAPA data, the low-cost airline saw a capacity growth of 78.1% in 2019.

Larger carriers have been hashing out deals with Middle Eastern LCCs as of late; in October last year, Air Arabia and Etihad announced plans to launch a new budget carrier. Once operational, it will be the fifth airline to operate in the UAE and Abu Dhabi’s first LCC.

That same month, India’s SpiceJet announced plans to launch an airline based in Ras Al Khaimah International Airport.

ATM exhibition director ME Danielle Curtis shared: “Situated within eight-hours of two-thirds of the world’s population and located between the major cities of Europe in the northwest, the fast-developing East African cities in the west and India and Pakistan in the east – the Middle East is the ideal location to set up a budget airline, attracting passenger traffic from within the region as well as from across much of the eastern hemisphere.”

Curtis, said: “The rise of LCCs in the region appears to be bringing some fresh momentum to the aviation industry, with research predicting 50% of airline traffic to be on routes of less than 2,000 miles by 2038, a trend which Airbus described as ‘fertile territory for the LCC business model’ in their most recent report.”

Only 13% of the globe’s short-haul flights are run by Middle Eastern LCCs, compared to Asia’s 62%.

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