A new report points out that almost fifteen percent of all Europe to Asia air traffic last year passed through one of the Gulf’s three major hubs.
The report, published by aviation technology firm Amadeus, notes that traffic on long-haul routes via Dubai, Doha or Abu Dhabi surged by 10 percent in 2012. As a result, these Gulf hubs rose in prominence to become fiercely competitive with some of the better known names in the European aviation industry.
The Amadeus report estimates that overall traffic volumes between Europe and Asia were up 7 percent over last year. Further, air travel between Europe and Asia through the Middle East increased by 20 percent last year. The number of total passengers traveling from airports in the Middle East grew by 2 percent last year to 99 million.
“This data provides good news for the airline industry, showing that passenger air traffic has increased in every region of the world from 2011 to 2012. As in 2011, this growth is led by Asia, however, the data points to a further opportunity in the region, where the majority of traffic is on a small number of busy routes.” — Pascal Clement, head of travel intelligence at Amadeus
Some major European airlines, including Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, have witnessed a drop in revenues and profitability due to heightened competition from Gulf carriers such as Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. However, the European airlines have often publicly criticised Gulf carriers as they benefit from fuel subsidies and lower labour costs. They have called for stricter restriction on Gulf airlines flying into European airspace.
According to Lufthansa CEO, Christoph Franz, “governments must take action” and “introduce a capacity limit” so that European carriers could be protected from unfair competition and survive against [what they perceive as an] assault by Gulf airlines.