Following the recent news that the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention urged citizens and residents to avoid foreign travel and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that the spread of the new coronavirus in February and March are set to wipe off the growth registered by Middle East airlines at the start of the year;
Richard Thompson, Editorial Director at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view: “Any major slowdown in Gulf aviation will have a significant knock impact on the regional economy.
“The aviation sector is a key part of the regional economy. The region has invested heavily over the past two decades in fleet and route expansion, and in airport infrastructure. Moreover, as well as creating jobs and being a key part of the tourism industry, the airlines are important buyers of fuel from the region’s oil companies.
“The Middle East aviation sector is significantly exposed to Covid-19 disruptions due to its role as a connecting hub between China and other regions, especially Europe. Airlines in the Middle East are feeling a huge impact from the new coronavirus, with more than 3,000 Covid-19 cases detected in the region.
“Dubai carrier Emirates said it had witnessed a ‘measurable slowdown’ due to Covid-19, and said that it had to amend its operating schedule by either reducing frequencies or cancelling flights to specific destinations. It has offered voluntary paid and unpaid leave to its staff earlier this month.”