Boeing Commercial Airplanes forecast that Middle East airlines will be unable to sustain their 20% growth rates and expects growth to slow to an average of 10% over the next 10-15 years (Gulf News, 27-Jun-2011). Middle East carriers are expected to continue to take international long-haul traffic away from Asian, European and US carriers, although they are facing increasing restrictions in some markets.
Boeing expects Middle East growth to slow
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When CAPA – Centre for Aviation held its first conference in Iran at the end of Jan-2016 the atmosphere was primarily one of optimism. Immediately preceding the conference the expectation was that Iran and the West would move to rapidly reverse decades of estrangement. The first round of sanctions against Iran had come down – in line with the historic 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the ‘5+1’ powers – and major airlines and aircraft manufacturers were coming to the table.
While it was acknowledged that progress on major deals was not going to happen overnight, the hope was that as layers of sanctions came down, Iran would be embraced by the rest of the world. In return, Iran was expected to open itself up progressively to foreign trade and investment, and to travel.
The road ahead was perceived to be one that was both a very different, and far easier, one than the one Iran had already travelled. Aviation in particular was a sector that was expected to shine and lead the way for a new era for the country.
Lion Group 2016 fleet analysis: slower growth following 737 cancellations & increased focus on FSCs
Lion Group significantly slowed its rate of expansion in 2016 and cancelled 21 Boeing 737 orders. The Indonesia-based airline group took 36 aircraft in 2016 compared to 57 aircraft in 2015, as the rate of 737 deliveries was slashed in half from an average of two per month to one per month.
Most of the growth in 2016 was at Lion Group’s two full service airlines, Indonesia’s Batik Air and Malaysia’s Malindo Air. Malindo expanded its fleet by a staggering 15 aircraft, for a total of 42, making it one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world. Batik expanded its fleet by eight aircraft in 2016, for a total of 41.
The rate of expansion slowed at all three of Lion Group’s low cost airlines – Lion Air, Thai Lion Air and the turboprop operator Wings Air. The fleet at the main Lion Air brand only expanded by three aircraft, while Wings added four turboprops. The group’s JV in Thailand added six aircraft, which was fewer aircraft than initially planned.