03 December 2008

Air Arabia CEO forecasts civil aviation expansion and industry reforms

Expansion of the air transport sector has made it the fastest growing industry in the world, says the Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia, the first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC) in the Middle East and North Africa. Speaking at the Middle East Public Transport Conference and Exhibition (JOTRANS) in Amman, he stated that, in light of the region’s booming economy since 2001, its share of international passenger traffic has grown from five per cent to ten per cent. He added that low-cost carriers are stimulating growth and globally they are the most profitable business models.

Addressing that, regionally, air travel is the only means of state-to-state transport, Ali adds that for every US$100 spent on air transport, the regional economy benefits by US$325 and for every 100 additional jobs made in air transport, results in 610 new other jobs.

“Air travel today is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Consider the demographics of the region where the population is one of the fastest growing, where 100 million people are under the age of 24 and millions more are expatriates – air travel is often their only option,” said Ali.

“Open-skies initiatives, signed in 2004, are a start to opening up and liberalising the air travel market in the region, giving rise to the abolition of monopolies, greater competition and potentially lower fares. The full adoption of open-skies policies is yet to happen; however, their partial adoption has already improved some of the region’s economies, and in light of the global economic downturn and fluctuating oil prices, total open-skies initiatives are an economic must so that the industry can react commercially, without unnecessary red tape and interference.

Acknowledging that challenges still remain in the civil aviation sector, Ali said that, while still maintaining 50 per cent lower fares compared to full-service airlines, the outlook for LCCs is bright. “Air Arabia continues to adapt upon the globally proven LCC model to the unique needs of this region. While focusing on providing the highest level of service offerings at the most competitive fares, Air Arabia continues to be the regional leader for reliable low-cost air travel solutions.

“In this, our fifth anniversary year, we have experienced record profits and growth – expanding our fleet of aircraft to 16 and our list of destinations to 44, we are setting new benchmarks, not only in this region but across the globe,” Ali added

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