The Middle East remains among the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world, with the regional fleet set to expand 5.1% annually over the next decade, according to a new study.

The maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% in the same period, the Global Fleet and MRO Market Forecast 2023-2033 report released by global consultancy Oliver Wyman showed.

The Middle East aviation market is heavily dependent on international travel, which has been slower to rebound to pre-pandemic levels than domestic travel. However, last year the region benefitted from air traffic around events such as the World Cup, which was held in Qatar in the final two months of the year.

André Martins, Partner at Oliver Wyman in India, the Middle East and Africa, said: “The aviation industry has played a very important role in the growth of the Middle East region. The well-established players are continuously revamping their commercial models and operations in order to be ready for waves of growth.

“Now new players entering the market, and countries are revamping their offerings across the entire value chain. As a result, we expect the Middle East aviation industry to continue to gain importance at the global level.”

The Middle East’s share of the global fleet will grow over the decade from 4.9% in 2023 to 6% in 2033.  Meanwhile, the global fleet is projected to expand one-third by 2033, to well over 36,000 aircraft.

The report also anticipated a record number of aircraft deliveries over the next 10 years (despite current supply chain constraints).

The Middle East fleet’s growth over the next decade will primarily be driven by the addition of narrowbodies.

Historically, the Middle Eastern fleet has been primarily made up of widebodies. But moving forward, narrowbodies will increase to 48% of the fleet from 39%, while widebodies will decline to 48% from 56%.

(Writing by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)