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The Middle-Eastern Travellers 2024

February 9, 2024

Middle Eastern air travelers, characterized by high spending and a preference for luxury, have shown a robust digital engagement for travel arrangements, with significant seasonal travel peaks due to cultural events, and a dynamic recovery trajectory post-COVID-19 towards pre-pandemic levels.

What is the profile of these passengers and consumers?

In 2019, Middle Eastern airlines were at the pinnacle of global aviation, carrying approximately 216 million passengers. Dubai International Airport (DXB) led the way as the world’s busiest for international traffic, welcoming over 86 million travelers. This period highlighted the region’s critical role in connecting continents and its burgeoning aviation industry.

However, 2020 saw an unprecedented downturn due to the global crisis, with passenger traffic in the Middle East plummeting nearly 70% from the previous year to around 65 million. The drastic reduction, coupled with over half of the region’s flights being canceled or postponed, underscored the pandemic’s severe impact on aviation.

The year 2021 offered a glimmer of hope, witnessing a modest 30% uptick in traffic compared to 2020, yet remaining significantly below pre-pandemic levels. Forecasters remained optimistic, projecting an average annual passenger traffic growth of 4.4% for the Middle East through 2035, signaling confidence in the region’s long-term recovery and expansion.

By February 2023, a remarkable rebound was evident. Total traffic surged by 55.5% compared to February 2022, reaching 84.9% of February 2019’s figures. International traffic saw an even more impressive rise of 89.7% from the previous year, attaining 77.5% of pre-pandemic levels. This robust growth, amidst uncertain economic indicators, highlights a resilient demand for air travel and the Middle Eastern aviation sector’s strong recovery trajectory.

The Middle East’s journey from global aviation leader to navigating through the industry’s most challenging period, and its ongoing recovery, underscores the region’s adaptability and resilience. With passenger numbers steadily climbing and the industry nearing pre-pandemic levels, the Middle Eastern aviation sector is once again poised to redefine its role in the global air travel ecosystem.

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