Middle East Air Freight Ascent

It wasn't long ago that media and markets alike were ready to anoint the Middle East as the world's next airfreight hub. Gulf carriers and airports, once the exclusive backdrop for oil business, have experienced their own boom over the past several years thanks to continued investment in assets and infrastructure, and industry differentiation. Dubai World Central, "the world's first purpose-built aerotropolis," is symbolic of the Middle East's ascent. Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi all feature among the world's top 30 airports in cargo tonnage.

By contrast, established European hubs have encountered inertia, underscored by recession and sluggish economic recovery, as well as regulatory constraints including night flight restrictions, labor laws, and environmental mandates. Middle East airports are ideally positioned along the Asia-Europe trade routes, with few constraints to growth. Night flights, cheaper fuel, and preferential landing and parking fees have quickly eroded total landed costs and long-held affinities for European hubs. This consensus has been building for some time.