Gulf airlines flex might as Riyadh Air fuels new competition


Al-Monitor Pro members


Samuel Wendel

Senior Market Research Analyst, Al-Monitor


Sep. 22, 2023

Bottom Line:

Qatar Airways is bullish on South America, while Etihad Airways wants to double its fleet and Emirates is touting demand for “Destination Dubai” after a near record summer — the Gulf’s Big Three carriers are flying high as profits and passengers return. Yet, this sunny moment comes as the future outlook is increasingly cloudy: new competitive threats loom, particularly “Destination Riyadh.” Although Riyadh Air — Saudi Arabia’s newest airline — isn’t scheduled to operate flights until 2025, the impending arrival of another world-class carrier is already influencing its future rivals, while Air India’s ambitions are also adding pressure. That’s pushing Gulf airlines to evolve, from embracing premium economy to forging new partnerships — reviving talk of a potential merger creating a Middle East super airline

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