The five national airlines of the UAE – Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, Fly Dubai, Air Arabia and Al Arabiya Abu Dhabi – have combinedly operated about 98,926 flights during the first quarter of this year, registering a growth of 33.69% compared with 73,992 flights during the same period last year, according to the UK-based OAG.
Data from OAG, the world’s leading provider of digital flight information, intelligence and analytics for airports, airlines, and travel tech companies, showed that the total number of flights during Q1 of 2023 was about 8,370 less than pre-pandemic levels, when carriers operated about 107,296 flights in the first quarter of 2019.
The data revealed that air traffic during last March was the most active since the beginning of this year, as carriers operated about 34,306 flights, a growth of 28.8%, compared with 26,634 flights operated by national carriers during March 2022 and 36,857 flights operated by national carriers in March 2019.
While Emirates Airlines operated 38,667 flights in Q1 of 2023 compared with 30,068 flights during the corresponding period in 2022, a growth of 28.5%, Fly Dubai flights increased from 19,349 in the first quarter of 2022 to 25,975 flights in the first quarter of 2023, with a growth. 34.2%, an increase of 5616 flights compared to the first quarter of 2019 before the pandemic.
The number of Etihad Airways flights increased by 39.9%, to 14,120 flights in Q1 of 2023, compared with 10,091 flights during the same period in 2022, while the number of Air Arabia flights increased by 30.5%, to 16,964 flights in Q1 of this year, compared with 12,993 flights in the same period in 2022. The number of Air Arabia Abu Dhabi flights increased from 1491 flights to 3200 flights in the first quarter of this year.
The data also showed that Flydubai and Air Arabia exceeded pre-pandemic levels in terms of the number of flights, while Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways are recording strong levels of growth in the number of their flights, which makes them very close to reaching 2019 levels if they continue on the same current upward path.
The UAE’s national carriers have succeeded in adapting to the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, to outperform their peers globally in terms of the number of destinations, operational performance and services provided to passengers.
The airlines acquired about 74% of the total seat capacity for flights through the country’s airports during the first quarter of this year, the OAG data showed.
The destinations of the UAE national carriers currently include about 130 for Emirates Airlines, 66 for Etihad Airways, 114 for flydubai, and about 190 for Air Arabia from its various centres of operations.
The national carriers are expected to sustain the momentum of growth and recovery in the coming years, benefiting from the strong demand for travel to and from the Emirates, after it has become at the forefront of the preferred destinations in the world for tourism and business, especially after the huge successes achieved in dealing with the pandemic and the success of 2020EXPO Dubai.