Regional airlines make strong come back

Middle East-based airlines, have made steady progress and passenger traffic recovery has been strong for them with 31.4 per cent year-o-year in the second quarter of 2023, a figure at par with the pre-Covid days, according to a report published by the IATA.

The report titled ‘IATA Air Transport Chartbook – Q2 2023’ that reviewed the industry passenger, cargo and financial performance, furthers that in terms of RPKs (Revenue Passenger Kilometres), the Middle Eastern carriers have outperformed the global recovery which reached 93.7 per cent (within 6.3 per cent) of pre-covid levels for the quarter, a figure that gives a boost to retinal tourism.

The regional airlines saw their RPKs reach within 0.9 per cent of their Q2 2019 levels, a rate that the global airlines umbrella forecasted earlier as the regional carriers would make faster recovery in the post-Covid era.

This review that covered the business cycle, sustainability and energy transition, passenger and cargo traffic, airline financial performance, and regional outlook, concludes that since most of the passenger traffic for the Middle East is international, total RPKs followed similar growth trends and recovery rates as international RPKs.

“In terms of ticket sales, the region has outperformed the global average and continues to trend upward, indicating sustained passenger demand. Local holiday shifts in the region caused some fluctuations but the overall trend remains positive,” the report said.

The report further details that the timing of the holy month of Ramadhan has played a key role in origin-destination (O-D) passenger traffic in Q2-2023 compared to 2019.

The origin-destination (O-D) passenger traffic in Q2 2023 also made a solid recovery in comparison to pre-covid periods.

Passenger traffic growth generally varied among the countries in the region, with the strongest performances and while some led the passenger traffic growth, other countries also exhibited subdued growth in the second quarter compared to the previous period.

The report further gives indication that the airlines in the middle east will cover up their losses due to the pandemic in 2023 itself, based on the latest findings of the IATA quarterly Business Confidence survey.

However, the financial performance continues to be led by the North American carriers, which are expected to post a net profit in excess of USD 10 billion in 2023.

Middle East and Europe airlines are also likely to be profitable in 2023, with other regions continuing to show an improved financial performance, moving towards a return to profitability, the ‘IATA Air Transport Chartbook – Q2 2023’ pointed out.

Cargo activity for Middle East airlines decreased in the second quarter of 2023 by 3.1 per cent compared to the same period last year. This was still an improvement relative to the 8.1 per cent YoY drop in the first quarter of 2023. Compared to 2019, second quarter cargo activity was flat. Middle East carriers have demonstrated better cargo activity in the second quarter compared to the global activity which was 5.0 per cent and 4.8 per cent below 2022 and 2019 levels, respectively.

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