Persian Gulf airlines, airports shaking up global air travel

Persian Gulf airlines, airports shaking up global air travel

LONDON/DUBAI/NEW YORK -- Using its geographical advantage and massive financial resources, the Persian Gulf is transforming itself into the main hub for international air travel.

Possessing a commanding presence in the market for Asia-Europe routes, big-name Gulf carriers such as Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways are poised to expand sharply in the North American market. Middle Eastern airlines are also beginning to take the lead in industry consolidation.

But this meteoric growth has some international rivals crying foul.

A new centre

The driving force behind the region's aeronautical ascent is Dubai. In 2014, Dubai International Airport surpassed Heathrow as the world's busiest airport for international traffic, handling 70 million international passengers compared with the London hub's 68 million.

Heathrow is suffering from a capacity shortfall. It has applied for government permission to expand its runways, but the planned expansion would not be completed until 2023 at the earliest even if permission was obtained immediately.

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