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This global hub is tipped to double its aircraft numbers within 20 years

  • Traffic routes to and from Middle East destinations is tipped by Airbus to grow at 5.9 percent annually
  • Middle East airlines have come in for criticism from U.S. counterparts
Dubai International Airport
Moment Mobile ED/ Getty Images
Dubai International Airport

The Middle East's reputation as a global hub for air travel looks set to grow and grow.

The number of planes operated by Middle East airlines, including Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways and Doha's Qatar Airways, is forecast to more than double over the next two decades, according to the Airbus Global Market Forecast.

Airbus has predicted that the Middle East will order 2,590 new aircraft over the next 20 years, with around three-quarters of that figure needed to accommodate capacity growth.

"Most people around the world are just one flight away from the Middle East. The region's proximity to the world's population and growth markets has been a key in its aviation," said John Leahy, chief operating officer customers at Airbus Commercial Aircraft.

The European multinational estimated that Middle East demand will include 1,080 twin-aisle aircraft, the same number of single-aisle aircraft, and 430 very large aircraft.

The future demand for the Middle East's needs is valued at US$600 billion worth of orders.

Traffic routes to and from Middle East destinations is tipped by Airbus to grow at a punchy 5.9 percent annually until 2036. The highest growth is expected to be on routes connecting with Latin America.

Freight traffic growth from the region is expected to be highest between the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, with 4.0 percent annual growth to 2036.

However, growth in the region may not come without some challenges.

Middle East airlines have come in for criticism from U.S. counterparts who claim they receive unfair subsidies from their respective governments.

In July, American Airlines announced it was canceling codeshare agreements with Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways because they were allegedly receiving such subsidies.

Mega Cities

Airbus claimed there are presently 58 "mega cities" that account for more than a million daily long-haul passengers.

The company said that by 2036 there will be 95 mega-cities, catering to 98 percent of the world's long-haul services.

Airbus forecast that the number of mega cities in the Middle East will more than double to 11 over the next 20 years.