(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) While the air-cargo business has witnessed weak growth over the past few years in most regions, in the Middle East, and the GCC, in particular, the sector continues to post robust growth, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The trade body said airlines in the region are benefiting from better conditions in advanced economies, but trade activity with emerging markets continues to provide a strong base for growth, with various goods passing through the Middle Eastern hubs to Asia and Africa.
Addressing mediapersons on the sidelines of the IATA annual general meeting in Doha on Tuesday, Glyn Hughes, director of cargo industry management at IATA, said, ''Air cargo is a significant component in the revenues of the Gulf carriers. The region sees cargo as a key component and is building fantastic facilities for the segment as part of airport development. Investments in aircargo infrastructure are really supporting and facilitating the growth, which is the highest in the Gulf region.''
''Gulf carriers have effectively grown fleets and expanded their networks with global connectivity. We believe the double-digit growth in air-cargo demand will continue in the region.'' Hughes said Gulf countries, however, need to look into airtraffic congestion, which is a potential issue in the region.
According to IATA statistics, carriers in the Middle East continue to see the highest rates of growth among regions, with aircargo demand rising 11 per cent during the first four months of 2014 compared with the same period of the previous year.
It said available air-cargo capacity in the region grew by 9.1 per cent, again the highest among the regions. ''Regional carriers continue to expand capacity as well as increase their network and services, broadening the types of commodities they transport. Capacity is growing, but slightly lower than demand. It is a good sign that Gulf carriers are managing growth very well,'' added Hughes.
He said that, at the global level, the last four years have seen significant passenger business growth while air cargo has contracted, which points to the need for a fundamental redesign of the air-cargo business.
Hughes added that goods worth US6.8tn are transported by air cargo annually which equates to over 35 per cent of international trade in value terms, yet only less than one per cent by volume, illustrating the high value of goods moved by the air secto