Friday, December 30, 2011

Adieu 2011

2011 is coming to an end and it has been a rocky year regionally and globally.

Politically, The Arab Spring has resulted in regime changes and more uncertainty. Europe is in turmoil over the Euro debt and the USA goes from one funding crisis to another. Rating agencies have been downgrading major economies deepening the Euro Zone crisis. India is facing a weakening of its currency and a relative slow down in its GDP same as China.

In MENA/GCC 2011 has been an interesting and challenging year for the airlines and aviation.
Most airlines managed to expand and no aircraft orders were cancelled or deferred. Most of the MENA carriers managed to recover from the Arab Spring effects. Passenger numbers were comparable to 2010 if not better but yields suffered. Fuel amounted to 40% to 60% of the airlines cost however ticket prices remained at the same level in fear of losing passengers. Mega aircraft orders were made during the Dubai Air Show. Emirates became the largest B777 operator same as the A380. Etihad ordered additional B787s to become the largest operator. Qatar Airways will be the launch customer for the A320NEO after browbeating Airbus and ordering 50 firm and 30 options. Oman Air ordered B787s keeping Boeing happy.

The airlines of the region expanded into Africa, the CIS and South America in addition to the traditional markets in Europe, India and Saudi Arabia. Relatively new markets, in order to sustain their capacity growth in face of increasing global and regional political and economic turmoil.

There has been several major events during the year that will have an impact on 2012 and beyond:

Etihad increased its stake in Airberlin to 29% providing much needed cash to the European carrier and providing access to Etihad's network, just as Airberlin will provide Etihad with access to Germany and Europe.

The second event is the announcement by GACA of the completion of their proposals to allow foreign investment and regional carriers to operate domestic flights within Saudi Arabia and international flights from any point in the Kingdom. GACA does not know how successful this will be, but are willing to wait and see and then adjust depending on the response.

There has been other events such as the privatization of Kuwait Airways after its restructuring and the code share agreement between Royal Jordanian and Airberlin.

As 2011 passes away, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous 2012

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