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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 25/04/2011

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Propelled by Emirates, Etihad Airways and Oman Air, global flight capacity is poised to soar to "unprecedented" levels in April, according to new figures released by a key data and analysis provider for the aviation industry.

The three carriers operating from the Middle East - the fastest growing market in terms of capacity - are due to deliver an 11 per cent increase in capacity for the region in April, said the UK-based Official Airlines Guide, or OAG, in its monthly snapshot of airline activity.

Other carriers driving the region's capacity growth are Qatar Airways and low-cost carriers Air Arabia and flyDubai.

The capacity growth forecast for the Middle East far exceeds the five per cent global flight capacity growth expected in April.

The unprecedented capacity surge comes at a time when world's airlines continue to adjust their schedules and capacity daily to meet fluctuating demand in the wake of Japan's devastating earthquakes and tsunami.

The report showed that airlines around the world will provide 317.4 million seats to passengers during the month of April in 2011. "This figure is five per cent higher than at the same time in 2010, or 13.9 million more seats, and represents the highest capacity ever provided by the industry," the OAG said in its April Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics report.

Frequencies have also been rising, up three per cent, or 80,653 more flights scheduled to operate worldwide in April 2011 compared to April 2010.

The Asia-Pacific region will be served with an extra 6.2 million seats by airlines during the month of April this year. Europe will see a three per cent increase in the number of seats offered by budget carriers in April, compared with the same month last year.

"The fastest-growing market by volume of seats is to and from the Middle East, with an 11 per cent increase in capacity year on year. However, political events in the region will likely have an effect on sustaining this level of scheduled capacity," the report observed.

Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said air passenger traffic was picking up in the Middle East after the region was torn by instability but warned airlines would have to wait until after the summer for a recovery in Japan.

IATA, which represents the majority of world airlines, said the industry was also reeling from a 30 billion rise in its fuel bill this year due to the Arab unrest. IATA had previously said the March 11 Japanese earthquake and subsequent nuclear crisis would cause a major slowdown from which airlines would not recover before the second half.

"We will have to see the numbers for April because March is not a big indicator, but there will be a big effect," Bisignani said.

The Association of British Travel Agents, or ABTA, said Dubai and Florida holidays are among the popular travel destinations along with Spain, the most popular destination for Britons, with the ever-popular Costa del Sol and the Canary Islands attracting large throngs of holidaymakers.

ABTA said travellers in the UK are taking advantage of the extra bank holiday provided for the royal wedding, with workers only needing to take three days off to enjoy an 11-day holiday. Two million holidaymakers in the UK will be heading for holidays abroad over the Easter period.

OAG said in terms of absolute growth, the intra-Asia Pacific region is the clear leader with more than 6.2 million additional seats and 40,203 more published flights this month against April 2010.

Over the last five years, figures within the Asia Pacific region have shown average capacity growth of seven per cent compared to the global average of four percent.

Analysis of the European market reveals marginal growth of 0.3 per cent in frequencies and two per cent in capacity for services within the region.

Issac John

 






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