Although political unrest in several Middle East and Gulf states has severely knocked traffic levels in recent months, the medium- and long-term outlook for the region's air transport market remains healthy, according to Abdul Teffaha, secretary general of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation.
"My message is that the long-term input [of these events] will be positive. Short-term we will have to bite the bullet and minimise the damage," says Teffaha.
With Middle East carriers reporting a 12.1% rise in international markets in April, double the 5.3% March number, a return to confidence to the region's long-haul operations is already being seen, says IATA. "These carriers represent 65% of total Arab world traffic so are an excellent cushion of stability and growth in that area," explains Teffaha.
"I believe that greater transparency in the region will definitely help tremendously the business environment and spill over to positive traffic demand for the Arab travel market," he says.
Certain markets like Bahrain, Syria and Yemen have been badly affected in traffic terms, but the impact is small as combined they only account for 6% of Middle East traffic. "The situation is bordering on crisis for a number of airlines," says Teffaha. However in some affected countries, such as Tunisia and Egypt, the traffic situation has improved a little.
IATA delegates will be pleased to hear Teffaha expressing confidence that the AGM will return one day to Egypt and Cairo after the disappointment of missing out this year because of the unrest in the country. "Egypt is a necessity for anyone on the travel map and it is only natural that the AGM would savour the hospitality of the country and specifically Cairo," he says.