Boeing on Sunday projected that the Middle East airlines’ fleet will more than double over the next two decades and nearly half – 45 per cent – of them would be widebody planes as demand for travel is set to grow exponentially and the region will see more aviation hubs

According to the Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) forecast released by the US aircraft manufacturer, the global aviation industry will need 2,277,000 new personnel, of which the Middle East and Africa will account for 13 per cent, or 296,000, during the forecast period.

It said commercial plane deliveries to the Middle East carriers are projected to be 3,025 between 2023 and 2024 which includes 1,570 single-aisle, 1,350 widebody, 70 freighter and 35 regional jets.

In total, the commercial fleet will generate demand for $335 billion (Dh1.23 trillion) in aviation services including maintenance, repair, training and spare parts.

“Airlines in the Middle East have increasingly expanded their influence and reach, transforming the region into an international air transit hub,” said Darren Hulst, vice president for commercial marketing at Boeing.

“Air travel and cargo demand continue to gain momentum, driven by significant economic growth and national development plans. As airlines in the region will require efficient and versatile fleet solutions, Boeing products will be ready to meet market demands,” he said.

The Middle East is witnessing the emergence of new aviation hubs such as Riyadh as new airlines are gearing up to take off while the existing major carriers are fast expanding their routes and ramping up existing networks. Many airlines in the region provide service between major population centres in Asia, Africa and Europe via growing hubs that offer efficient connectivity. As a result, US aircraft maker sees a need for a higher proportion of widebody aircraft to carry larger passenger volumes.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said the strong post-pandemic passenger traffic trend continued in September as traffic is now at 97.3 per cent of pre-Covid levels. “The third quarter of 2023 ended on a high note, with record domestic passenger demand for September and continued strong international traffic,” said Willie Walsh, director-general at Iata.

Boeing said two-thirds of new deliveries will support air traffic and cargo growth while one-third of deliveries will replace older airplanes with more fuel-efficient models.

Boeing said the Middle East’s fleet of freighters is projected to more than double to 180 jets by 2042.

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