Airports in Middle East 'bright spots' amid slump

Business Materials 1 August 2008 03:29 (UTC +04:00)

Airports in the Middle East are turning out to be "bright spots" amid slowing air traffic growth in most regions of the world as air travel gets more expensive, an industry group said on Thursday, GN reported.

Worldwide passenger growth at airports was just two per cent in June, according to Geneva-based Airports Council International (ACI).

It said high fuel prices, stock market turbulences, inflation and an uncertain economic outlook "have taken their toll" on international air traffic in June.

Middle East and Africa saw a growth rate of 13 per cent, while Europe grew 2.4 per cent. "The bright spots in international traffic remain Egypt and South Africa, as well as the UAE, Bahrain and Lebanon," ACI said in a statement. It said Asia Pacific international traffic contracted mainly due to China, Taiwan and Japan.

Top Asian hub airports saw a moderate growth, significantly down from previous levels but higher than global average. Bangkok saw a growth of 5.1 per cent, Singapore rose 2.9 per cent, Kuala Lumpur's passengers grew 6.5 per cent and Hong Kong recorded 5.5 per cent growth.

The Middle East aviation sector continues to defy a global industry slowdown and airlines in the region are more appear more optimistic than their peers elsewhere about future growth.

During the first half of this year, Dubai International Airport handled a record 18.46 million passengers, registering a growth of 13.8 per cent over the first half of 2007. Between January and May, 3.5 million passengers used Abu Dhabi International Airport, a 39.2 per cent increase compared with the same period last year.

Regional airlines also continue to build their fleet to cope with such growth. Middle East companies accounted for some $40 billion worth of plane orders.