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Gulf airlines will collaborate more in 2023, says Emirates chief

Emirates Emirates
Sir Tim Clark said the region's air transport market is not yet saturated and there was "plenty of potential yet to be tapped"
  • Passenger demand growth forecast to outpace capacity growth
  • Emirates recently signed a codeshare agreement with Gulf Air
  • Middle East aviation market forecast to grow by $6.17bn by 2026

The Middle East aviation industry is perfectly positioned to launch greater collaboration among its leading players, according to Emirates president Sir Tim Clark.

Middle East carriers are expected to post a loss of $1.1 billion in 2022, and a profit of $268 million in 2023 as per a report from the International Air Transport Association.

In 2023 passenger demand growth of 23.4 percent is forecast to outpace capacity growth of 21.2 percent. Over the year, the region is expected to serve 97.8 percent of pre-crisis demand levels with 94.5 percent of pre-crisis capacity. 

And in an exclusive column for AGBI, Clark said that closer cooperation between Gulf airlines would add further fuel to the recovery.

He said: “The air transport market in our region is not yet saturated, and there’s plenty of potential yet to be tapped. I can see, for example, the benefit of more intra-region collaboration – like the codeshare arrangement that Emirates recently signed with Gulf Air.”

The new agreement, which was signed in November, offers easy connections and expanded choices for Emirates customers connecting to Dubai and onwards to a number of Emirates destinations across Europe, Africa, South America and the Far East.

The Middle East aviation market is forecast to grow by $6.17 billion through to 2026, according to a report from Technavio, buoyed by greater investment in tourism across the region and the increase in the number of airports and terminals being constructed.

Emirates made a net profit of AED4.2 billion ($1.2 billion) in the six months to September 30. That compares with a loss of $1.6 billion the prior year. 

Revenue rose 128 percent year-on-year to $15.3 billion, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) nearly trebled to $4.2 billion. 

This enabled Emirates Group to report a profit margin of 7.4 percent. 

Its profit margin for full-year 2018-19 – the last before the Covid 19 pandemic – was 2.1 percent, while its highest full-year profit margin since 2012 was in 2015-16 when it reached 8.8 percent.

Most of the group’s earnings come from the airline, which reported a 131 percent annual rise in half-year revenue to $13.7 billion. Its EBITDA was $4 billion and profit was $1.1 billion. That gave the airline a profit margin of 8.0 percent.

Emirates carried 19.96 million passengers, more than three times the previous year, as its flights were 78.5 percent full. That compares with 47.9 percent a year earlier. 

Read Sir Tim Clark’s column.