Arab airlines warned on global slowdown
The Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) feels the economic slowdown may affect regional carriers and put tourism industry under pressure.AACO said at the end of its 34th annual general meeting that current political and economic developments failed to provide any indicator for growth. 'The growth in traffic to and from the region this year may fall to 2.5 per cent from 3.9 per cent last year,'the organisation said. Quoting IMF, it said the region's GDP would grow only by 3.6 per cent this year compared to 4.8 per cent in 2000. The Palestinian crisis and the recession in non-oil exporting countries will affect the aviation industry. AACO secretary-general Abdul Wahab Teffaha said it was a matter of deep concern that the fledgling Palestine Airlines was not allowed to operate from its own base in Palestine. Established in 1997, PA joined the AACO two years later. The organisation also said the profitability of IATA airlines may shrink in view of the current developments. Quoting IATA, it said the profitability is likely to come down to $1.5 billion this year from $2.4 billion in 2000. AACO will hold its next annual meeting in Beirut. Mohamad el-Hout of the Middle East Airlines was elected the new AACO president at the end of the Doha meeting. The 36th AACO AGM will be hosted by Gulf Air in Bahrain. Modest increase in air passenger traffic Meanwhile, AACO said its member airlines recorded a modest increase of 3.9 per cent in passenger traffic in 2000 compared to the previous year. Eleven member airlines carried 34.3 million passengers last year compared to 32.9 million in 1999. International traffic represented 24.3 million passengers, an increase of 12.6 per cent, while domestic traffic dropped slightly by 0.4 per cent to 10 million passengers. The increase in passenger traffic among the members ranged between 4.4 per cent and 26.7 per cent.