Five years since the launch of AAL’s office in Dubai, the carrier said that it is seeing tentative growth in cargo demand in the Middle East.
Despite a challenging period for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – with oil price instability and Covid-19 creating economic pressure for a number of economies – fiscal responses from a number of countries in the region are providing a lifeline to ongoing power and civil infrastructure projects, according to AAL.
“Green shoots first appeared after central banks began announcing stimulus measures focused on facilitating bank lending and easing loan payments for companies and projects,” said Karim Smaili, AAL’s chief representative in the Middle East. “One of these was the UAE’s Target Economic Support Scheme, which initially allocated USD27 billion in zero-interest loans to banks and cuts in capital reserve requirements. Saudi Arabia similarly offered USD13 billion to support banks and other countries have followed.”
Smaili added that whilst it is difficult to judge how effective these measures will be in the face of the pandemic, the immediate affect has been positive for a number of AAL’s customers in the petrochemical and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) sectors.
“We are also seeing growing demand and imports of general cargoes and even exports from the Middle East of steel and project cargoes to Asia,” he added.
These “green shoots” have been reflected in the growing popularity of AAL’s scheduled Europe – Middle East/ India – Asia monthly liner service, which it launched earlier in 2020, as HLPFI reported here.
Smaili said that the service has helped established AAL as a carrier of choice with a growing number of local customers. “They have not only appreciated the scheduled monthly integrity of our sailings but have benefited from the economies of scale that our larger mega-size vessels offer,” Smaili said.