By Jens Flottau, Guy Norris http://www.aviationweek.com
For more than a decade, Persian Gulf carriers have collectively helped shape the long-range airliner product development strategy for both Airbus and Boeing and the world’s high-capacity air transport markets.
The impact of airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways on performance requirements has therefore evolved into something considerably greater than the sum of their parts. As a result, even though the airlines of the region in themselves represent a sizeable chunk of both the Airbus and Boeing market forecasts, their influence extends out of all proportion around the globe. Having placed themselves at the nexus of an ever-growing network of interconnecting global routes, they have driven airframe and engine manufacturers to reach new levels of range and payload capability.
Because of the geographic location of their hubs, the Middle Eastern carriers require more range than most others. A flight to New York is not an eight-hr. mission like it would be for Lufthansa or Air France, but can be a trip in excess of 14 hr. against winter headwinds. Trips to the U.S. West Coast can reach 17 hr., much like flights to Latin American destinations, which are increasingly linked to Middle East networks. Carriers claim they can connect any two markets on the globe with only one stop somewhere in the Persian Gulf region, and they need aircraft with long legs to keep that promise. More info