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Has the Middle East Peaked as a Hub ?

Middle East Many expats still flying in Knoteetingham. Regional issues can be discussed here.

Has the Middle East Peaked as a Hub ?

Old 7th Jun 2020, 15:17
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Has the Middle East Peaked as a Hub ?

Prior to the 1990s the ME was simply a refueling stop rather than a transit hub. The latest generation of aircraft with increased range allowed it to be overflown, however they also allowed non stop from the ME to anywhere enabling any two airports to be connected through that location. EK, EY and QR took full advantage of this and built themselves into major hub airlines with a global reach.

The COVID - 19 pandemic has brought all that to a crashing halt, and even as the recovery starts, the hub model of bringing in passengers from all over the world to a central location and then redistributing them all across the network will be out for a long time to come as travel bubbles will favour non stop flights or fuel stops only where this isn't possible. Governments will want to assist their national airlines by permitting their direct flights whilst placing heavy restrictions on other countries airlines connecting flights. One case of COVID - 19 in the cabin crew accommodation would be disastrous for any ME airline as crews typically share apartments in a few common locations.

The A380 concept hasn't worked and possibly the days of the mega international hubs are numbered as well. The latest generation of aircraft, B787 and A320neo have better range and economics than earlier series and allow greater flexibility and more point to point routes. Hubs will still be needed but are likely to be smaller, more numerous, more widely spread out and focused on less distant destinations. One stop connections will still be possible but will likely involve a hub in a more direct line and smaller aircraft.

Filling B773s will be difficult enough, and filling of them enough to maintain frequency and reduce connecting times will be even harder. Moving 800 pax takes 2x B777 or 5x A320/B737, if the loads drop removing 1 B777 flight is a 50% capacity cut and a 2 hour connection turns into an 8 hour one whereas removing one narrowbody is a 20% cut with a much smaller increase in the transit time.

Various locations have risen to prominence and then fallen again as aircraft capabilities increased, Shannon Ireland was once a vital fuel stop for aircraft making the Atlantic crossing but was bypased as range increased.

Are the best days of the ME hubs now behind them with growth turning into a very slow decline ?
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 17:00
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Anchorage in Alaska was until the 1990s a major passenger hub purely due to its location. It was
once known as the crossroads of the world handling 500 747's a week.

Times and technologies change and its glory days are now over.

With regards to the ME hub we are talking about a harsh new reality that no one was prepared for.

Yes I agree this crisis might very well be the beginning of the end.
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 19:48
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Probably the best days of the ME are over. I don't know. But there will be a lot of city-pairs between Europe and Asia, and between Africa and Asia that won't justify a daily non-stop flight.
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 21:47
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I thinking the best days of any routing, whether the transatlantic market, the Kangaroo route or the ME hubs are over. Sure, they will all return o some degree, but never to 2019 levels again.

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Old 7th Jun 2020, 22:59
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Maybe, maybe not.
Thing is, to change the present model requires airlines to replace existing fleet prematurely. Presuming passenger loads are slow to return to pre-Covid19 levels then it may be hard to justify this cost. Cheaper to run what you’ve got until things pick up, by which time those older airframes will have paid for themselves.

The M.E. airlines have the advantage of cheap fuel, cheap labor, no pesky unions and are government owned. Quite a formidable combination to compete against.
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 23:42
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Originally Posted by gear lever View Post
I thinking the best days of any routing, whether the transatlantic market, the Kangaroo route or the ME hubs are over. Sure, they will all return o some degree, but never to 2019 levels again.
yeah yeah sure.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 00:57
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Anchorage in Alaska is still a major hub but for cargo, not passengers. Any change is likely to be gradual and EK seem to have realised this with the new fleet shifting towards smaller A350s and B787s. The line on the growth graph may be shifting from steady and upward into a slow decline.

Unfortunately there isn't much for the ME 3 in the immediate surrounding area, and they rely on connecting people from cities which are a considerable distance from their main base. The long haul and premium traveller segments have been hit hardest and will take the longest to recover. Where non stop flights aren't possible, transits are likely to be restricted to virus free countries with strong controls. Taiwan is one of the least affected countries in the world and there would be little concern about joining pax or crew layovers in Taipei for example.

The ME 3 are global airlines and a large portion of their networks will be off limits for some time to come, airlines which are more focused towards regions which are virus free will be less affected as a smaller proportion of their networks will remain closed.

Ethiopian Airlines will be even worse off due to their location and focus on Africa. China Airlines and EVA Air may experience a surge in demand. Vietnam was largely spared from the virus and could be an increasingly popular destination. Fiji could replace Bali for Australian holiday makers.

The next couple of years will see some major changes in travel patterns.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 03:50
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In a Nutshell?


No.......
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 04:14
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WK why not ? ME is done ! Dubai is about to be reclaimed by the desert and not just because of air travel . Hang on to your hats ! And by the way there are some good buys on Dubai properties.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 04:43
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Originally Posted by fatbus
And by the way there are some good buys on Dubai properties.
Thanks but already been there and done that
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 04:49
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Originally Posted by fatbus
ME is done ! Dubai is about to be reclaimed by the desert and not just because of air travel
How do you come up with this little gem?
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 05:08
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Always good for a laugh

Even before Covid there was plenty of experts predicting the end of the ME super hub due to the 787/350.

Anchorage may have been a hub in the past but it clearly lost out when longer range aircraft appeared.

Geography never changes. Regardless of what aircraft are in service or will come in the future, the fact remains, the ME is within 8 hours of 2/3rds of the world’s population. Despite the USA being so awesome, Anchorage did not have that advantage. It has been mentioned many times by industry experts that the ‘sweet spot’ for most wide body flights is around 8 hours. This is because the extra fuel required to go further starts to become exponentially more expensive.

Something most of you don’t seem to understand is the mix of passengers on any EK/QR service. It is very rare to see more than 20 passengers on any flight travelling between two destinations. For example a flight from SEA-DXB, would have passengers connecting to over 40 destinations, so the average is 7.5 pax per connection.

That means a direct flight between most parts of the world WILL NEVER HAPPEN. There just isn’t enough demand. So hubs will always exist. Hubs are designed to bring together passengers travelling to one destination to make the whole flight profitable.

Direct point to point flights WILL take some of the demand away from the ME. But it will never kill the business model as you are suggesting. Geography and pure economics will always win.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 05:13
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well said - do you work for EK Government Affairs aka OpenSky Magazine?

Originally Posted by aviation_enthus View Post
Even before Covid there was plenty of experts predicting the end of the ME super hub due to the 787/350.

Anchorage may have been a hub in the past but it clearly lost out when longer range aircraft appeared.

Geography never changes. Regardless of what aircraft are in service or will come in the future, the fact remains, the ME is within 8 hours of 2/3rds of the world’s population. Despite the USA being so awesome, Anchorage did not have that advantage. It has been mentioned many times by industry experts that the ‘sweet spot’ for most wide body flights is around 8 hours. This is because the extra fuel required to go further starts to become exponentially more expensive.

Something most of you don’t seem to understand is the mix of passengers on any EK/QR service. It is very rare to see more than 20 passengers on any flight travelling between two destinations. For example a flight from SEA-DXB, would have passengers connecting to over 40 destinations, so the average is 7.5 pax per connection.

That means a direct flight between most parts of the world WILL NEVER HAPPEN. There just isn’t enough demand. So hubs will always exist. Hubs are designed to bring together passengers travelling to one destination to make the whole flight profitable.

Direct point to point flights WILL take some of the demand away from the ME. But it will never kill the business model as you are suggesting. Geography and pure economics will always win.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 06:30
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Originally Posted by fatbus View Post
WK why not ? ME is done ! Dubai is about to be reclaimed by the desert and not just because of air travel . Hang on to your hats ! And by the way there are some good buys on Dubai properties.
same was said in 2008! They will find a way.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 07:05
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Ideally as a passenger I would prefer to fly direct to my chosen destination. Flying east long haul from the UK, unless I fly from Heathrow or Manchester, and with the exception of TUI, ME carriers are the most practical choice. They offer a wide choice of destinations beyond their hubs, good aircraft and service, multiple services from UK airports and of course competition to keep prices at an acceptable level. No sign of this changing in my view for many years. And not forgetting that Dubai for one has become a destination Itself.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 07:06
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I certainly hope so! Airlines funded by Dictatorial regimes were modern slavery is still in practice. Capital punishment for gay people and basically no form of human rights.

but to answer the question: nope. Its geography in combination with cheap labour, cheap “loans” etc will make sure the ME still has a future. Maybe not in its current shape and form and maybe the unmentionable will be merged into EK but we have definitely not seen the end of the ME as a hub. Insh’allah
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 07:20
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Originally Posted by krismiler View Post
Anchorage in Alaska is still a major hub but for cargo, not passengers. Any change is likely to be gradual and EK seem to have realised this with the new fleet shifting towards smaller A350s and B787s. The line on the growth graph may be shifting from steady and upward into a slow decline.

Unfortunately there isn't much for the ME 3 in the immediate surrounding area, and they rely on connecting people from cities which are a considerable distance from their main base.
Well I would say Pakistan and India are in the " immediate surrounding area ". While these countries with huge populations struggle to find seats on their on their own carriers the ME 3 will have a large role to play.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 11:10
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Originally Posted by EchoKilla View Post
well said - do you work for EK Government Affairs aka OpenSky Magazine?

HAHAHAHA!!! Whatever mate. ‘Cause anyone that disagrees with the original post is a paid troll??

I’ll make it simple for you:

Any airline based in the Middle East has similar advantages. Look at the history of Iran Air pre 1979 and you’ll see these things never change. The problem is the countries they’re based in aren’t as stable or nice as Singapore (and the old Hong Kong).
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 11:31
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I still see the long haul hub business going on! Airlines are chopping routes left right and centre together with crews and aircraft! Direct city pairs with shrink and that's where EK & QR will pick up the extra, mix it in the ME and push out as they've done for years! I cannot see the other, not to be mentioned one, seriously competing mind you! I thinks it will take 2-3 years to get near 2019 levels mind you!
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 12:20
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The hub business will certainly go on, some will gain in importance and some will reduce as new travel patterns emerge. Addis would be the natural one for Africa, Singapore for SE Asia, London for Europe to North America etc. Turkey is very well positioned between Europe and Asia, and Turkish Airlines fly to more destinations than any other.

A single location may be unable to support three mega carriers all chasing the same market, an EK/EY merger would make sense, even just code sharing and coordinating schedules would go a long way.

Survival over the next few years will depend on who has the deepest pockets and gets the most support.
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