• Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

Middle East airline industry needs to think about ‘consolidation’, says Air Arabia CEO

ByKimberly A. Brochu

Mar 1, 2022

Air Arabia, the Middle East’s largest low-cost carrier, has announced new airlines in Pakistan and Armenia in recent months. Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, a joint venture with Etihad Airways, already flies between the United Arab Emirates and several destinations in South Asia.

“There are too many small players in the LCC (low cost carrier) market in the region and around us,” Ali said, adding that airline partnerships in the past involved “signing a piece of paper “without real commitment or money. “They tend to work for a while, but they fail very quickly – unless you invest in something, you don’t care.”

Air Arabia covered around 40% of its fuel needs, which helped the airline maintain competitive ticket prices. “We dithered for a number of years – sometimes it stings you, but sometimes it worked for us,” Ali said. “I wish the industry was such that when the price of oil goes up you can adjust your prices accordingly, but that’s not the case.

With COVID-19 no longer the top concern for airlines, hiring is again front and center, aviation officials say. “We all have to recruit more people now, and a lot of people who stopped working at a certain age, we have to replace them,” Ali said. “It will take time, especially when it comes to technical skills that take a little time to practice. Labor has become a challenge.

“The virus (COVID-19) is getting softer and lighter – there are almost two years of travel backlogs to catch up on,” Ali said. “From that perspective, as countries open up, I think the market will come back.”