The rise of the Gulf airports
A threat for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol?
The airports of Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai, together referred to as the ‘Gulf airports’, will have a combined capacity of 340 million passengers by 2020. Consequently, they are trying to redirect the traditional traffic flows east tot west. This research focused on the possible influence of the Gulf airports on Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The findings show that the Gulf airports have a good competitive position on the transfer market to and from Southeast Asia and Oceania, but not to Northern and East Asia. They pose no immediate threat, however, Schiphol and the main Dutch airline KLM will have to continue their cooperation in order to minimize this upcoming competition and to ensure a sustainable position of Schiphol as one of the most important hub airport on the transfer market.
Keywords: Hub competition, Gulf airports, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Gulf region Table of contents
After the deregulation of the European aviation market in the period 1992-1997, airlines gained the freedom to adept their strategies to market demand and to reorganize themselves spatially. As the hub-and-spoke network structure was perceived to add value on both the demand and cost side, it consequently became the dominant choice of network structure (Gillen & Morrison, 2005). Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands is the fourth largest airport of Europe, and the main hub of KLM Royal Dutch airline. Airline hubs are essentially airports where passengers change airplanes to reach their final destination (Derudder et al., 2007). By directing multiple flights through a hub, airlines can service more destinations while operating more cost-effectively. Schiphol airport has reached the position of the fourth largest airport in Europe, because it is a hub airport. Without its hub operations, Schiphol would lose its status as one of Europe’s largest and most important airports (Bilotkach & Mueller, 2012). A few rapidly rising players may threaten these operations. Since the beginning of the 21st century the airline industry in the Arabian Gulf has grown extensively, becoming a relatively new player in the international aviation industry. Airlines from the Gulf region, like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airlines are rapidly expanding their network over the world, while simultaneously building new hub-airports in their countries of origin. Moreover, taking into consideration the geographical location of the Middle East in comparison with other world regions, its central location offers a perfect gateway to both the Asia-Pacific and Western markets. When the new airports in the Gulf region are finished around 2020, the combined capacity will amount to c. 340 million passengers each year. These developments are likely to have great effect on major European and Asian carriers, as well as their respective hubs (Vespermann et al., 2008). In the academic literature a large amount of research articles are written on airport competition, airport regulation, airline mergers/alliances, and the hub-and-spoke network structure. However, the literature on the development of new airports, the rise of Middle-Eastern carriers and its effect on the airline industry is limited. Therefore, this paper aims to present a clear conclusion based on the existing literature on these developments, and to provide a valid contribution on this trending topic that is expected to have a significant impact on the airline industry in its current state. This paper is a literature review of existing, peer-reviewed articles and official publications of the researched airports. The focus of the paper is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and the scope is limited to the effects that the airports of Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi might have on Schiphol. In the first part of the paper an overview will be given of the existing streams of literature on the airport market, as well as an...
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