As the aviation world shudders at the prospect of oil soaring to $200 a barrel, an industry expert has said budget carriers and low-cost airports could help shape the future of air travel.
Simon Morris, director of United Kingdom-based airport specialists Jacobs Consultancy, said companies whose business models have not factored in rising fuel costs will be pressured into cutting expenses in other areas, such as flying with premium airlines, particularly in Europe and America.
"As times get tight, more people will fly low-cost," said Morris, who will analyse the prospects for low-cost airlines and airports at next week's Future Airports conference in Dubai, which runs alongside the Airport Show.
"Rising fuel prices will also encourage airlines to use low-cost terminals, where 15 to 20 per cent of the cost can be negotiated for the use of less sophisticated facilities. Low-cost terminals will play an important part in the future of the aviation industry. Reducing airport facilities and encouraging online check-in can bring substantial savings for the industry."
As rising fuel prices impact on travel trends in the West by forcing cost cutting, the effects of the oil boom on the Middle East economy is having a trickle down effect, not only encouraging more people to fly more often, but also bringing budget travel within reach of the lower paid.
Adel Ali, board member and CEO of low-cost carrier Air Arabia, said: "The aviation industry in the Middle East is now very open for change. People want to travel more often to more places with the best value for money. Hence the future of low-cost travel in this region is very promising and so are low-cost terminals."
Nick Webb, CEO of Streamline Marketing Group, organiser of the Airport Show, said: "This trend is highlighted by announcement of several new low-cost carriers in the region and the new terminal set to open at Al Maktoum International Airport will provide facilities for low-cost carriers."