Middle East

Air transport supports 3.3 million jobs and $213 billion in Middle East economic activity. That is 4.5% of all employment and 7.6% of all GDP in Middle Eastern countries in 2018.

Every person employed in the aviation sector directly, and in aviation enabled tourism, supported another 4.6 jobs elsewhere in the Middle East. Similarly, $2.10 of economic activity was supported elsewhere in the Middle East for every $1 created directly by the air transport sector.

The aviation sector in the Middle East directly employed an estimated 595,000 people in 2018. Analysis of these workers suggests:

  • 262,000 (44% of the total) were employed by airlines or handling agents as flight crew, check-in staff, maintenance crew, or head office staff
  • 26,000 (4%) had jobs with airport operators in airport management, maintenance, and security
  • 297,000 (50%) worked on-site in airports at retail outlets, restaurants, and hotels
  • 4,600 (1%) were employed in civil aircraft manufacturing, including systems, components, airframes, and engines
  • 5,300 (1%) worked for air navigation service providers in roles such as air traffic control and engineering

Airlines, airport operators, retailers and other on-site businesses, as well as air navigation services and civil aircraft manufacturers, all contribute to GDP in the Middle East. In 2018, the operations of these businesses generated $68 billion direct contribution to GDP.

The aviation sector’s spending with suppliers is estimated to have supported a further 676,000 jobs and a $40 billion contribution to GDP. In addition, spending by those employed in the aviation sector and its supply chain supported 302,000 more jobs and a $18 billion contribution to GDP.

The aviation sector also facilitates a substantial amount of tourism in the Middle East. This stimulates still more economic activity, as tourists spend their money in restaurants, hotels, retailers, tour operators, and on other consumer goods and services. In 2018, spending by foreign visitors who flew to Middle Eastern countries supported an estimated 1.8 million jobs and contributed $87 billion to GDP.