Asia, Middle East and Africa: the three largest and most important regions of the globe are also the biggest aviation markets in the world. According to the new IATA 20-year forecast, while the Middle East will expand nearly five per cent per annum and will be the joint fastest growing region that will see more than 380 million passengers pass through the region every year by 2034, Asia will see more than 100 million new passengers enter the market annually for the foreseeable future. Africa too has joined the bandwagon and it will be the fastest growing region in terms of passenger growth in the next 20 years, according to a study by IATA.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released the data for arms transfers and India with 15 per cent of global arms imports tops the list of importers of major weapons during the period 2010-13. In 2014, Saudi Arabia replaced India as the world’s largest importer of defence equipment. India has bounced back to the dubious number one position, after its 2015 purchases of American helicopters worth USD 3 billion and the 36 French fighters Rafale. China is ranked three and Pakistan is ranked 10th.
Indeed, Asia is stock-piling arms and it is a scary scenario. ‘Enabled by continued economic growth and driven by high threat perceptions, Asian countries continue to expand their military capabilities with an emphasis on maritime assets’, said Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘Asian countries generally still depend on imports of major weapons, which have strongly increased and will remain high in the near future.’
Airlines worldwide are growing their international footprint, also strategizing to tap into potential growth markets. This has led to continuous fleet expansions with a large number of highly sophisticated aircraft being put into service. Here comes the critical issue of recruiting qualified and well trained professionals including pilots, cabin crew, engineers and maintenance personnel for successful operations. Not only are the airlines responsible, but also the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have a crucial role in ensuring that the companies and professionals operating and maintaining the aircraft function on a parallel level of professionalism and safety.
Technically competent and professionally focused aircrew, technicians and dispatchers are vital to the accomplishment of safe flight operations, says Tom Huff, Aviation Safety Officer, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. “A thorough understanding of the aircraft systems and operational procedures in an immersive training environment enables further knowledge retention and practical application, while exploiting the full capabilities of the aircraft.”
Airlines in the Middle East will generate $4.6 billion in MRO expenditures in 2015, according to Aviation Week forecasts. While engine expenses account for 41%, components are slated at 22%. The Middle East commercial aviation MRO market is growing at a faster rate than the global average. While the majority of expenditures are driven by wide body aircraft, the Boeing 777-8 and -9 will account for the most new aircraft—12% of the 1,900 total aircraft delivered to the region over the decade, according to Aviation Week data.
ICF International also predicts the Middle East MRO market at $4.6 billion, but it pegs it to grow 6.7% per year, to $8.8 billion in 10 years, compared to $8.7 billion in Aviation Week’s data. ICF Principal Richard Brown said 76% of that $4.6 billion is influenced by wide body aircraft, with narrow bodies accounting for 19%. Four airlines—Emirates (29%), Qatar (15%), Etihad (15%) and Saudia (8%)—account for nearly two-thirds, or about $3 billion of Middle East MRO expenses, Brown said. These airlines are well equipped with in-house maintenance capabilities which explain why 76% of heavy airframe MRO is done within region. Of that, 81% of is performed in-house by airlines, “which means the opportunity for third-party suppliers targeting Middle East airframe and modifications is relatively small,” noted Brown.
According to In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity Market – Analysis & Global Forecasts to 2020, published by MarketsandMarkerts, the in-flight market is expected to reach US$5.80b by 2020 from US$2.85b in 2015 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.23% during the forecast period. The following study also covers hardware, content & connectivity out of which connectivity segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28%.
“As operating margins remain low and competition intensifies, airlines are identifying factors rather than prices to attract customers. In-flight and connectivity will be the key for airlines to achieve differentiation and boost brand royalty,” according to Frost and Sullivan Aerospace and Defense Consultant Lisa Montzavinow.