BAE Systems predicts that the market for regional aircraft in the Middle East could be about to increase as deregulation and growth drives down aircraft size.

Steve Doughty, vice-president sales of BAE Systems Regional Aircraft, says that the bulk of the current fleet in the region is being misused on shorter sectors and that as deregulation kicks in and market forces are allowed to form the supply side, then the market for regional aircraft will open up.

Speaking at the Civil Aviation in the Middle East Dubai Summit this week, Doughty noted that 15 airlines accounted for more than 90% of the total scheduled capacity offered on intra-Middle Eastern services, with Emirates, Iran Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines accounting for nearly 50% between them.

Most short-haul routes are flown by mainline single-aisle or widebody aircraft, said Doughty, with 50- to 110-seat regional aircraft accounting for less than 20% of the frequency and 10% of the capacity on intra-Middle East services.

“Stage lengths average only 550 miles [886km] for widebody services and 355 miles for the regional aircraft fleet, while frequency on the 635 airport pairs averages less than 1.5 per day,” said Doughty.

BAE says as the intra-Middle East market develops through growth and deregulation, frequency will develop and aircraft size will inevitably reduce. “Frequency is a key competitive selling point for airlines and tends to be higher in deregulated markets,” said Doughty.

Source: Flight International