More than 40 airlines and over 60 represented airports have confirmed their participation at the inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa – co-located with Arabian Travel Market 2019 and taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday 30th April and Wednesday 1st May.
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With up to 300 delegates, the forum will include a diverse conference program, including panel discussions, keynotes, Q&A’s and airline & industry briefings as well as unlimited one-to-one meetings pre-scheduled for airlines, airports and suppliers – all combined with endless informal opportunities for networking.
Throughout 2018, the busiest long-haul Middle Eastern flight route was Dubai International Airport to London Heathrow Airport, with 7,109 flights between March 2018 and February 2019, according to the latest analysis from leading travel data provider OAG.
In terms of short-haul flights, the busiest Middle Eastern route was between King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh with 35,419 flights, while the busiest international route within the region was between Dubai International Airport and Kuwait International Airport with 14,581 flights.
Nick Pilbeam, Divisional Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, said: “2018 was a busy year for flight routes both to and from the Middle East and as we look ahead this trend is expected to continue with IATA predicting an extra 290 million air passengers on routes to, from and within the region by 2037 – with the total market size increasing to 501 million passengers during the same period.
“This projected growth underscores Dubai, and of course the Middle East, as the ideal location to bring together professionals from the aviation and tourism industry for the inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa forum.”
In 2018, GCC airlines added 58 new flight routes – focusing on areas of consistent and substantial growth – according to research from Colliers International – based on a sample of 10 airlines including Emirates, Etihad, flydubai, Salaam Air, Oman Air, Gulf Air, Saudia, flyadeal, Air Arabia and IndiGo Airlines.
Looking at the UAE alone, almost 50% of new routes introduced in 2018 were to destinations across Europe – with the second largest share of new flights connecting the UAE with Russia.
Karin Butot, CEO, The Airport Agency, said: “With two thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight from the GCC it is an ideal base for exploring some of the world’s most interesting and previously inaccessible corners of the world. And, GCC as well as various Middle Eastern airlines are making it even easier with the continuous addition of new and direct flight routes.
“2019 is set to be an exciting year for new routes – particularly between the Middle East and Europe – with various new and direct flights announced by UAE airlines to destinations such as Budapest, Naples, Prague and Belgrade as well as an increased number of flights to Barcelona and London.”
The inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa will witness a strong delegation of both Middle Eastern and European carriers such as Air Arabia, Oman Air, Saudia, Etihad, Flynas and Flydubai– as well as airports including London Stansted, Basel, Bologna, Vienna, Fraport TAV Antalya and Belgrade.
With a focus on the European aviation market, a keynote from Annabelle Lepiece, Partner for CMS DeBacker and CMS Belgium titled ‘European Union External Aviation Policy’ will discuss the ongoing negotiations for comprehensive air transport agreements between the EU and the GCC which are being hampered by protectionist voices.
Also taking place on day one of the forum will be a panel titled ‘Regional Focus: What are the opportunities and challenges for the Middle East region?’ will address the on-going geo-political challenges and volatile fuel prices affecting the aviation industry at present while discussing how new and emerging destinations are positioning themselves to attract and develop significant air passenger traffic.
Other highlights from the two-day forum will include a training workshop on the ‘Simpson Paradox’, an Airbus briefing session which will provide an update on the current Airbus product line and a China Southern Airline briefing which will discuss the airline’s dual-hub strategy between Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport as well as their cooperation strategy.
CONNECT’s online meeting system is opened, so that delegates can plan and book their onsite appointments in advance. Please log on to: www.connect-aviation.com/2019-meia/ for more details.
CONNECT Middle East, India & Africa will form part of the newly launched Arabian Travel Week, an umbrella brand comprising four co-located shows including ATM 2019; ILTM Arabia and new consumer-led event – ATM Holiday Shopper.
Arabian Travel Week will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 27 April – 1 May 2019.