THE size of the Gulf’s aircraft fleet in the Gulf will treble in size in less than a decade, says a report.
With Emirates having about 90 planes on order, Qatar Airways having ordered 80 new planes and Etihad Airways, the youngest of the three, projecting a fleet of 50 planes by 2009, the region Gulf could see a serious capacity surplus in the near future, said the Flight International report.
The fleet of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar will more than double over the next six years and this does not take into account Qatar’s commitment for 60 A350s.
While Dubai has developed into a major transit hub and leisure destination, Abu Dhabi and Qatar’s capital, Doha, may not be able to generate traffic at the level required to fill the vast increase in capacity, the report said.
Passenger numbers for the region are also expected to jump from 34 million in 2005 to 78 million by 2010, with Dubai international airport accounting for 60 million of this total. Traffic at Abu Dhabi is also set to double from the present six million passengers to 12 million.
According to government estimates, Dubai’s population will reach between seven and 10 million by 2015, also by then, the Dubai Land entertainment and theme park complex is expected to draw 20 million visitors a year.
Etihad’s strategic plan is believed to focus largely on linking Abu Dhabi with direct flights to capital cities across the world, with one destination added each month. The carrier expects to serve 70 cities by 2010, added the report.
The report quoted Emirates president, Tim Clark as saying: “If we did not believe there would be this phenomenal growth we would not have placed the orders we did. People tend to forget that these aircraft will not arrive all at once. We have a phased fleet plan that will see the A380s, for example, being delivered between October 2006 and 2012. Since we embarked on our growth scenario in 2001, traffic has tipped up by 15 per cent and [by 2012] we will face an almost 50 per cent shortage of capacity.” About 15 per cent of Emirates traffic is between Dubai and India but this would be more it not for government-imposed limitations on the number of seats it is allowed to provide. With these restrictions removed, Emirates could expand its Indian coverage to include provincial capitals. Another important factor is the sudden emergence of low-fare airlines in India, which could also have a considerable impact on traffic between the Indian Subcontinent and the Gulf states.
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