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GCC airport projects reach $57bn as travel demand grows

The total value of 152 active aviation-related projects in the Middle East reached $57.7 billion (AED211bn) in April 2017, according to BNC Network.

More than two-thirds of all aviation-related projects in the Middle East are being executed in the GCC and the Gulf region’s aviation projects account for 72 per cent of the total estimated value for all aviation projects in the MENA region.

Further, nearly a fifth of the aviation projects, with a combined estimated value of $11.5bn (AED42.2bn), are on hold in MENA, new figures from BNC Intelligence reveal.

Almost half are located in KSA

The latest BNC Intelligence report shows that Saudi Arabia has the largest share (46 per cent) of aviation projects in the GCC in terms of dollar value, followed by the UAE (26 per cent) and Kuwait (12 per cent).

In April 2017, three airport projects in Saudi Arabia were awarded for construction, namely the redevelopment of Hail Airport project worth $380 million, Qassim International Airport located in Buraidah worth $372m and Taif International Airport worth $350m.

Two more aviation projects – namely STTS Aircraft Painting Facility located in Dubai World Aviation City and an Aircraft Hangar facility at Sharjah International Airport – were also awarded in April 2017.

Avin Gidwani, Chief Executive Officer of BNC Network, said: “Connecting the region through a network of small airports facilitates urbanisation across a country rather than just around major cities. Small airports support the need to continue to build larger airports as well as airlines require hubs to manage their growing operations.”

“Air travel is being rapidly commoditised – people expect and demand fast, easy and economical mobility and for the region to stay economically competitive and attractive for business and tourism it must put in place a world-class aviation infrastructure,” Gidwani added.

ME carriers have strongest annual traffic growth

The combined aircraft order backlog by Middle Eastern carriers reached $277.9bn (AED1.01 trillion), or 14.4 per cent of the total global aircraft order backlog, according to a report by Deloitte.

This involves more than 1,000 aircrafts on order to serve more than 400m passengers by 2025.

Middle East carriers had the strongest regional annual traffic growth for the fifth year in a row in 2016, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

IATA said in its annual report: “Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) expanded 11.8 per cent, consolidating the region’s position as the third-largest market for international passengers. Capacity growth (13.7 per cent) continued to outstrip demand, with the result that the load factor fell 1.3 percentage points to 74.7 per cent.”

Mega airport projects underway

The latest BNC Intelligence report reflects increasing focus by the governments of the oil-rich Gulf countries on aviation and tourism sectors to diversify their economies and reduce dependence on hydrocarbon.

Gidwani said: “Continuous economic growth in Arab countries and empowerment of the region’s population will encourage more people to travel across the region and out of the region for business and leisure, pushing the demand for additional airport capacity – both passenger terminal and aircraft take-off and landing facilities. Therefore, the governments of the Middle Eastern countries are expected to increase investment in aviation infrastructure in the coming years.”

Among the mega airport projects, Al Maktoum International, with a development value exceeding $8bn (AED30bn), will continue to dominate the headlines, followed by Abu Dhabi International Airport’s expansion, valued at $6.8bn (AED25bn) and the ongoing expansion of Seeb International Airport in Muscat as well as Kuwait International Airport.

Dubai International Airport – the largest aviation hub in the Middle East that is undergoing a AED28bn expansion – has served 83.65m passengers last year and will reach its capacity of 90m in two years – that will put pressure on its facilities. This will accelerate the pace of construction activities at Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai South master development.

However, due to certain reasons, more than 31 per cent of the aviation projects with a combined estimated value of $11.5bn (AED42.2bn) are on hold in MENA.

According to BNC Intelligence, airport projects have the largest share (83 per cent) of the GCC’s aviation industry in terms of dollar value and the rest 17 per cent is accounted by hangar facility projects, runways and ancillary facility projects.

Middle East Aviation Projects Snapshot

$57.7bn           : Value of airport projects in the Middle East

$11.5bn           : Value of the stalled airport projects in the Middle East

1,000 aircraft   : Firm aircraft orders by airlines in the Middle East pending delivery

$277.9bn         : Value of aircraft order backlog by Middle Eastern carriers

83.5m              : Passengers passed through Dubai International Airport in 2016

400m               : Passenger traffic estimated to travel through airports in the Middle East

Source: BNC Network, IATA and Deloitte