Gulf Cooperation Council aviation - Statistics & Facts

Over the last decade, the GCC aviation industry has been outperforming other regional markets, mainly due to its infrastructure and demographic makeup. The country is served by 42 airlines, 11 of which are commercial carriers with a focus on passenger transport services. The fact that only the two airlines Air Arabia and Jazeera Airways are publicly listed, underpins the impression that the GCC aviation industry is mainly government-controlled: Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways are all wholly owned by their governments.


Emirates Airline is the largest full-service carrier in the region in terms of fleet size, destinations and revenue. In 2016, the company carried almost 52 million passengers and 2.5 million metric tons of freight worldwide, producing operating profit of over 2.5 billion U.S. dollars. Etihad’s fleet expansion has put the airline in the top three most significant full-service carriers in the GCC region. Etihad handled around 18.5 million passengers and close to 0.6 million tons of cargo worldwide in 2016. Air Arabia is one of the region’s four major low-cost carriers, and it is increasingly gaining popularity. With 37 aircraft in its fleet, the airline reported revenue streams of almost 892 million U.S. dollars from passenger operations and over 25 million U.S. dollars in cargo revenue in the fiscal year of 2016.

In terms of passenger traffic, Dubai International Airport was the busiest airport in the region, handling over 78 million passengers in 2015, followed by Doha International Airport with 30 million passengers. Regarding fuel costs, the GCC region is famous for their oil reserves; therefore, the GCC-based airlines all benefit from lower fuel prices, compared to other operating regions.

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Air transportation in the Gulf Cooperation Council - Important statistics

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