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French Version

Arab airlines outperformed rest of world in 2004

The region's carriers grew, bucking global trend in the industry

The Secretary General of Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) Abdul Wahab Teffaha said on Wednesday that Arab airlines recorded the highest growth in the world in 2004. Teffaha made the announcement in Beirut at the opening of the annual meeting of the Secretary General of Air Transport Industry. The two day meeting brought together senior officers from International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the regional associations of Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the South African region to consult on international developments in the air transport sector.

This is the first time that such an international event takes place in Beirut, according to organizers.

Teffaha also said that the Arab air transport sector has registered the highest growth rates ever in 2004. He added that the Arab airlines carried 24 percent more passengers in 2004 than 2003, at a time when several regions around the world were unable to return to the growth levels of 2000. Middle East Airlines, the Dubai based Emirates and several other Arab airlines have reported impressive profits in 2003 and 2004.

MEA recorded a net profit of more than $35 million in 2004, while Emirates' profits exceeded $350 million. Most leading airlines in the U.S. and Europe are experiencing heavy losses as the number of passengers fell to record levels over the past two years.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and the drastic rise in the price of oil were among the main reasons behind the sharp losses of western airlines. Industry analysts say many Arab tourists who used to spend holidays in Europe and the U.S. have shifted to the Middle East. The number of tourists in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Jordan more than tripled in 2004. As a direct result of this, Arab airlines acquired dozens of brand new aircraft from France and the U.S. Teffaha said the relatively stable security situation in some Arab states encouraged tourists to come to this region. He added that by 2007 paper air tickets will be replaced by electronic ticketing.

Beirut,01 17 2005
Osama Habib
The Daily Star
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