How Saudi Arabia’s air transport sector can overcome the coronavirus setbackArab News
“Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia have to think about new post-pandemic strategies to boost the travel confidence of customers flying through the hubs in the Middle East.”
In an interview with the Saudi-based daily newspaper Arab News, our Managing Consultant, Linus Benjamin Bauer, discussed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the air transport sector in the Gulf and how Saudi Arabia’s air transport sector can overcome the setback caused by the current pandemic.
The overall capacity in the Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, has shrunk by 3.53 million weekly departure seats year-on-year. In May 2019, there were 1.32 million weekly departure seats in the Kingdom. One year later, a very sharp decline was recorded, which touched 97,156.
“It clearly shows the severe impact of the current crisis on Saudi Arabia’s air-transport sector and by the end of this year, a capacity loss of 25 percent is forecast. In a pessimistic scenario, the impact could be as high as 35 percent.”, Bauer said.
The recovery of a country’s airline industry, according to Bauer, will have a lot to do with the size of its domestic travel market. Countries that lack large domestic travel markets, he said, are likely to recover more slowly from the crisis precipitated by the pandemic and may open up first to travelers from nearby countries in the Middle East.
“Having a large and diverse domestic market can be considered one of the competitive advantages for carriers,” he said. In the post-COVID-19 era, Bauer said that “an increase in demand for domestic feeder services for long-haul flights can be expected, driven by the fast-changing customer behavior of health-conscious passengers and the economic advantages associated with flying efficient, twin-engine long-range aircraft with lower cabin density.”
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