Middle East carriers post slowest regional cargo traffic growth in January

Middle East carriers’ freight volumes increased 4.4 percent in January, the slowest posted for just the third time in the past decade. (Courtesy Etihad Airways)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Middle East carriers post slowest regional cargo traffic growth in January

DUBAI: Middle East airlines posted the slowest regional cargo traffic growth in January, weighed by the challenging political environment in the Middle East, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.
Freight volumes increased 4.4 percent during the month, while capacity increased 6.3 percent, the slowest freight ton kilometers (FTKs) posted by regional airlines posted for just the third time in the past decade. FTK is an industry bellwether that measures how much freight business an airline gets.
Meanwhile, on a global scale, freight demand rose 8 percent in January compared with the year-earlier period, and was up from the 5.8 percent growth posted in December 2017.
“We expect demand for air cargo to taper to a more normal 4.5 percent growth rate for 2018. But there are potential headwinds. If President Trump follows through on his promise to impose sanctions on aluminum and steel imports, there is a very real risk of a trade war. Nobody wins when protectionist measures escalate,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said in a statement.
Carriers from the Asia-Pacific reported a 7.7 percent increase in freight volumes during the said month, driven by strong demand from the region’s major exporters China and Japan, which reported more active shipping activities to Europe.
North American airlines’ freight volumes meanwhile expanded 7.5 percent in January, and capacity increased 4.2 percent.
The strength of the US economy and the US dollar have improved the inbound freight market in recent years, IATA said.
European carriers posted a 10.5 percent increase in freight volumes, thanks to brisk demand for new export for new export orders among the region’s manufacturers.
Latin American airlines reported an 8 percent uptick in freight volumes, which coincided with signs of economic recovery in the region’s largest economy, Brazil. In Africa, carriers from the region reported that freight demand went up by 12.9 percent in January, boosted ‘by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia.’


Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

Updated 17 December 2018
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Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

  • China has exploited America’s selective drone export policy to become an increasingly influential player in meeting demand
  • The report is entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region”

BEIRUT: The use of armed drones in the Middle East, driven largely by sales from China, has grown significantly in the past few years with an increasing number of countries and other parties using them in regional conflicts to lethal effects, a new report said Monday.
The report by the Royal United Services Institute, or RUSI, found that more and more Mideast countries have acquired armed drones, either by importing them, such as Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or by building them domestically like Israel, Iran and Turkey.
China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones — otherwise known as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles — at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the United States.
The report , entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region,” said that by capitalizing on the gap in the market over the past few years, Beijing has supplied armed drones to several countries that are not authorized to purchase them from the US, and at a dramatically cheaper price.
“China, a no-questions-asked exporter of drones, has played and is likely to continue playing a key role as a supplier of armed UAVs to the Middle East,” it said.
The report explored where and how each of the states have used their armed drones and whether they have changed the way these countries approach air power. It found that Iran, the UAE and Turkey all changed the way they employ airpower after they acquired armed drones.
For Turkey and the UAE, armed drones enabled them to conduct strikes in situations where they would not have risked using conventional aircraft, it said. Iran developed armed drones from the outset specifically to enable to project power beyond the reach of its air force, which is hamstrung by obsolete aircraft and sanctions, the report added.
The report said it remains to be seen whether and how the loosening of restrictions on the exportation of armed drones by the Trump administration will alter dynamics in the region.
“Nonetheless, proliferation in armed UAVs in the Middle East is unlikely to stop and could, in fact, even accelerate,” the report said.