Hogan told Britain’s Guardian newspaper that the growth of Gulf hubs could persuade passengers to bypass Heathrow when making long-haul trips.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, is buying into Virgin Australia and has been given the go-ahead to acquire up to 10%. Qantas, for its part, is contemplating some sort of tie-up with Emirates, which might eventually make it concentrate on the Gulf rather than the Kangaroo Route.
Hogan said carriers were already making decisions about allocating fleets and routes for the next 30 years. They were unsure about Britain’s position in their plans. The current Conservative Government has ruled out further expansion of London Heathrow. Voters generally don’t want a bigger Heathrow but the travel and aviation industries, backed by business, are lobbying for it.
Hogan told the paper: “When cities make decisions about an airport the infrastructure moves towards it – but that doesn’t happen overnight.” He said constraints on British aviation would give the Gulf the competitive edge. It was a “long-term game and the challenge to the European hubs is growing”.
While Hogan said it was premature to describe the Gulf as a world centre for aviation, he said its position at the crossroads of global air traffic would present opportunities. Its nearness to the relatively untapped Indian market would also benefit Gulf airlines and hubs. These include Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
Written by : Peter Needham