Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : November 2009 Contents 32
NOVEMBER 2009 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
lines. Qatar launched a four times a week
service in December 2005 that has now
grown to daily, and it is the only airline
to operate to Madrid from the Middle
East. Its new flights to Melbourne and
Sydney will link the Australian cities to
Spain's capital with just one stop. Qantas
and Iberia passengers need to make
two stops via Singapore and Frankfurt
as neither airline operates the route. In
fact, despite Iberia and Qantas being
oneworld alliance partners, the Spanish
airline's reser vation system does not even
offer a Madrid-Melbourne flight.
Qatar Air ways CEO, the colourful Ak-
bar Al Baker, said the additional frequen-
cies demonstrate the airline's commitment
to offer passengers greater choice. "We
are constantly looking at ways to offer
our passengers improved levels of service,
more choice and more connections across
our global network." Like Clark, Al Baker
said cutting back is not the way to go.
"We strongly believe in building capacity
to meet the needs of the travelling public,
both in the short term and long term."
e airline, which started operations in
1994, had 70 aircraft in service in Septem-
ber and 134 on order. It plans a fleet of
110 by 2013, with its A380s due to arrive
from 2012. e airline is due to get 25 air-
craft in 2009, 23 in 2010 and 17 in 2011.
An interesting delivery this year were two
Boeing C-17s for the Qatar air force, one
of which carries the Qatar Airways livery
to be used for outside cargo and humani-
A number of Gulf States wanted to
airlift supplies to Indonesia after the tragic
2004 tsunami that claimed 230,000 lives
and to Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake,
but lacked the airlift capability and so re-
lied on Russian and US Air Force airlifters.
Qatar is expected to order two more C-17s
at the Dubai Airshow, while the UAE has
committed to four that may well operate in
Etihad or Emirates colours.
Clark just smiles about another heavy
lifter -- the A380. "Our flights are full and
it generates its own traffic," he said. Emir-
ates's next A380 destinations are Seoul and
Paris and Clark hints at Manchester. e
airline will get its seventh A380 in Novem-
ber and eighth in December, with three
more in the first two quarters next year.
Emirates will have 20 A380s in service by
the next Dubai Airshow in 2011.
Qatar's first A380, MSN106, arrives in
the first quarter of 2012, while Etihad's first
of 10, MSN114, will be delivered in the
first quarter of 2013.
And to handle the heavylifters, Dubai's
ever growing airport is not surprisingly
getting bigger. Terminal 3 and Concourse
2 opened late last year and the airport
handled 37.4 million passengers last year.
Currently, Concourse 3 is under construc-
tion to be opened in September 2012, and
will be connected to the other facilities by
an underground railway.
Clark said that the longer term Jebel Ali
Airport will open in March next year with
the first of a planned six runways. It will
initially handle cargo and executive jets and
later the new low cost airline flydubai.
However, while infrastructure on the
ground in the Middle East keeps pace
with growth, the air above does not, warns
Clark. "We need to spend more on ATC.
e big inhibitor to growth now is the
space above." IATA has cited expanding
military airspace requirements as an im-
pediment, while balancing that Clark said
the airline can now overfly Iraq to Europe.
Currently 50 per cent of the space above
the UAE is specified as aerial exclusion
zones, although the altitudes vary.
According to CAPA, the UAE is work-
ing to increase the number of air corridors
from 27 to 35 over the country by the end
of this year, while Dubai Airport has called
for a similar organisation to Eurocontrol to
take charge of the region's airspace system.
And that pressure for the space above
is only going to become more intense as
more LCCs emerge to service a virtually
untapped market in the Middle East.
Initially, the large number of migrant
workers seeking a seat to get home are seen
as the first customers. But it is the huge
number of young people in the Middle
East, which has a median age of 25, which
are seen as the LCCs' pot of gold. By com-
parison, the median age in Europe is 42.2
while the median in the US is 38.6.
According to CAPA the "youthful middle
class workforce has a strong appetite for trav-
el, and the region's proximity to high growth
markets, such as India, Europe and Central
Asia, create many opportunities to introduce
ser vice to medium haul destinations."
During the past few years, eight low
cost airlines have initiated ser vices and
one more is due to start flights this year.
Tw o trendsetters are AirArabia, based in
the Emirate of Sharjah adjacent to Dubai
which has a fleet of 14 A320s and flies
to 41 destinations, while flydubai, which
launched operations this year, has four of
an order of 56 737-800s in service and
operates to six destinations so far.
Clearly, no airlines in the Middle East
are merging or dying, but instead they are
following the advice of Mark Twain who
said: "Sail away from the safe harbour.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Ex-
plore. Dream. Discover."
POT OF GOLD? Does the Middle East represent untapped riches for low cost carriers? (Boeing)
GROWTH HUB Dubai's ever growing airport handled 37.4 million passengers last year. (Emirates)
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