We have become used to talking of the booming Middle East aviation market, but recent events and announcements have shown that while the mega network carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways continue to expand, things are tougher for airlines that rely much more on the regional market.
Royal Jordanian has just said that it will close five routes, cut frequencies to others and "reconsider its fleet size" as a result of rising fuel costs and the affect on tourism of the Arab Spring.
It's the classic double whammy; the squeeze from both ends. It says its operating costs went up 20% last year as a result of rising fuel costs, while at the same time traffic to a number of its destinations, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria among them, fell significantly.
Gulf Air is in a similar predicament. The Bahrain-based airline was already juggling with the awkward transition from a legacy cost-laden network carrier to a leaner, more regionally-focused player when along came the Arab Spring, and - even more damaging - the unrest in Bahrain itself. Traffic to the Gulf's main banking and trading centre, as well as to Gulf Air's many destinations in the wider Middle East, was hammered.
The Arab Spring has been seen as a good thing in the Western media: popular uprisings to get rid of tyrannical dictators. But for many of the carriers serving the region, the effect, in the short term at least, has been disastrous. Tourism is one of the major export earners for Tunisia and Egypt. For Bahrain, the Formula 1 Grand Prix (cancelled in 2010) and Saudi visitors crossing the causeway for leisure trips to the more relaxed and liberal Gulf kingdom help to keep the economy prosperous. Tourism to Syria - along with virtually all international trade - has been virtually suspended. Even Jordan has had its own scrape with popular unrest.
For many of these carriers, the problem is long term as well as short term. Fuel prices, might, just might, continue to creep down. And visitors might start to return to states that have begun to get themselves back in order after the turmoil of 2011. Even Egypt's victorious Islamist politicians have the pragmatism to realise that bans on beach bikinis and alcohol will have a dreadful effect on tourist traffic.
But the biggest long term problem is how these carriers restructure themselves for a new economic landscape. As tourists return to Mediterranean beaches and investors sweep into a still oil-rich Libya, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The Middle East's second tier of airlines will have to ensure that they have the right business models and cost structures to respond.