The group cited a major increase in activity from the region’s leading carriers, with Saudi Arabia-based Etihad tabling a 40 per cent year-on-year increase for the first quarter of 2008 – and Emirates leading the way in uptake of the record-breaking Airbus A380 aircraft.
Also referenced by M-Travel was the likely emergence of a Dubai-based low cost carrier to rival Air Arabia, with the Emirates group shepherding its development and the United Arab Emirates government firmly behind the project.
M-Travel’s conclusions are backed up by further regional developments: the recent Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition surveyed its attendees, finding that both suppliers and buyers envisage major growth in the Middle Eastern meetings market this year.
Meanwhile, the GDS industry has also tapped into the promise of the Middle East: while Amadeus remains the local market leader, rival Sabre is now offering tailor-made training programmes in Saudi Arabia that will provide the industry’s first female training departments in the country.
However the greatest asset for Middle Eastern travel could be the imminent opening of Dubai’s Jebel Ali airport, with the completed project likely to yield world record passenger handling capacity of 120 million passengers per annum.