Middle East aviation market expected to be flat in 2019, says Etihad Airways exec

The Middle East will experience a flat aviation market in the next 12 months, according to Robin Kamark, CCO at Etihad Aviation Group.

In an opinion piece looking ahead to 2019, Kamark said he predicts significant slowdown in the sector due to high supply of capacity.

“The regional market has been relatively flat and shrinking over the last couple of years. Next year, we predict a totally flat market in the region. This means you will not see the significant growth pattern enjoyed some years back,” he said.

“There has been a lot of air traffic capacity pushed into this market in the past few years and there is a huge supply of capacity provided by all the main operators here,” he added.

However, Kamark said high supply works in the consumer’s favour, as they will “most likely always find a seat on [their] desired flight,” he said.

Etihad Airways enjoyed steady growth in the first and second quarters of 2018, before experiencing slowdown in the fourth quarter due to a softening global market.

Kamark said the airline predicts “cautious growth” in international travel and markets.

“The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the IMF have a slightly different approach but they have also cut their growth forecast, so I think in 2019, we will have a market that is expanding at a lower rate, but still in positive growth range,” he said.

Shifting oil prices and currency fluctuations have also played a key role in negatively impacting airline revenue, though Kamark sees current opportunities in inbound tourism and stopovers.

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