Posted on September 16, 2011

Passenger traffic to and from the Middle East will reach 140 million by 2015, while Qatar Airways will triple its passengers capacity over the next two decades, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), said in a report published on Thursday. Dubai-based Emirates Airline is likely to become the world’s largest wide-body carrier in the same period.

According to the study entitled “Middle Eastern Megacarriers: Gaining Altitude”, the Middle East has now become entrenched as a hub for long-haul travel. Passenger flows to and from the Middle East increased by 45 million passengers over the five-year period from 2005 through 2010. “Increases between 2005 and 2015 reflect a compound annual growth rate of 11 percent,” BCG said.

Middle Eastern megacarriers like Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways, and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad are all expected to triple their passenger capacity over the next 20 years, according to BCG. “Because the Middle Eastern megacarriers have been early developers of the region as an important hub for long-haul routes-and because they enjoy significant cost advantages-they are well positioned to compete aggressively with more financially constrained carriers,” said Rend Stephan, partner & managing director at BCG, Middle East.


In terms of Emirates Airline, the Middle East’s largest carrier, BCG estimates that the carrier will grow its capacity by 9 percent to 12 percent annually through 2015—the specific growth rate depending on how quickly Emirates retires some of its older aircraft—to become the world’s largest operator of widebody aircraft. In terms of threats to the Middle Eastern megacarriers, BCG noted a need for airlines to manage the pressure that aggressive expansion plans exert on their margins. “Ultimately, Middle Eastern airlines must fill their added seats either by expanding their networks or by capturing a greater share of their existing markets,” BCG said.