Co-located with the Arabian Travel Market 2019, CONNECT Middle East India & Africa (taking place from April 30 until May 1) has revealed that 14 airlines have already confirmed their participation.
These include: Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, flydubai, Air Arabia, Air Asia, EgyptAir, flyadeal, Ethiopian Airlines, Global Airways, Atlas Global, Germania, Mahan Air, Royal Air Maroc and Titan Airways.
Last year was a busy year for GCC airlines, with a total of 58 new flight routes having been introduced, according to research by Colliers International, based on a sample of 10 airlines: Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, flydubai, Salaam Air, Oman Air, Gulf Air, Saudia, flyadeal, Air Arabia and IndiGo Airlines.
CEO, The Airport Agency, Karin Butot said: “2018 has been an exciting year for new flight routes both to and from the GCC, underscoring Dubai as the ideal location to bring together professionals from the aviation and tourism industry for the inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa forum.”
“With up to 400 delegates, CONNECT Middle East, India & Africa 2019 will include unlimited one-to-one pre-scheduled appointments, a conference programme, panel discussions and airline and industry briefings, as well as an exhibition area dedicated to airports and suppliers,” Butot added.
Meanwhile, divisional director, Reed Travel exhibitions, Nick Pilbeam noted: “With two thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight from the GCC, it is an ideal base for exploring some of the world’s most interesting and previously inaccessible corners of the world. And the GCC’s airlines are making it even easier with the continuous addition of new and direct flight routes.”
In the UAE alone, almost 50 per cent of new routes introduced in 2018 connect to destinations across Europe, with the second largest share of new flights connecting the UAE with Russia.
According to research, from 2018-2020, a total of 14.5 million EU residents are expected to travel to the UAE. The number of Russian visitors to the UAE is expected to jump by 69 per cent from 530,000 in 2017 to 895,700 in 2018.
Pilbeam said: “The UAE’s introduction of visas on arrival for Russian tourists in 2017 has led to a huge demand for new flight routes. Earlier this year, Emirates Airline announced a third daily flight to Moscow, while in September, the airline confirmed that it would be the first to fly an A380 to St Petersburg.
“Historically, Europe and the UAE have enjoyed excellent travel and tourism links. Building on this, the introduction of additional flights, new routes and competitive fares are expected to continue to attract growing numbers of EU residents to the UAE,” he concluded.
Throughout 2018, both Oman and Bahrain introduced 12 new routes each, while in Saudi Arabia, eight new routes were added during 2018, with most of them originating from Jeddah. Colliers International predicts that the majority of demand will come from the outbound market. However, as the Kingdom moves towards attracting 30 million visitors annually by 2030, the new routes may also attract a degree of inbound corporate, religious and leisure visitors.
CONNECT Middle East, India & Africa 2019, the first of its kind, is expected to bring together airline specialists, aviation authorities, tourism boards, airports and tour operators, as well as other travel-related industry professionals.