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Top Airlines from the Middle East

Best Airlines in Middle East

Ever since airplanes were discovered, traveling has become all about ease, comfort, and uber style. The Middle East is home to numerous airline companies, most state-owned by the region’s respective member states.

Read on for a rundown of the Middle East’s top airlines.

Top Airlines in the Middle East

Emirates “Fly Better”


Frequent Flyer Program Name: Emirates Skywards

Revenue (2021-22): USD 18.1 billion (source)

As per the World Air Transport Statistics 2021 published by IATA, Emirates was the largest airline company in 2020 in the world, having flown 15.8 million passengers in 2020. It is also the biggest one in the Middle East.

The Dubai-based airline company is a part of the Emirates Group and is owned by the Dubai Government. His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum is the Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group and Emirates Airlines. Sir Tim Clark is the President of Emirates Airlines and is one of the key personnel responsible for the iconic growth of the company.

Emirates has been ranked as the Skytrax ‘Airline of the Year’ four times – in 2001, 2002, 2013, and 2016. The air carrier operates flights to about 80 countries and 152 destinations covering the world’s six continents. With its hub at the Dubai International Airport, the company owns about 262 aircraft, including Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s, one of the largest globally.

The company operated its first functional aircraft in 1985. In 1992, it was the first international company that introduced inflight entertainment by installing video systems in the entire fleet for all cabin classes. The company practices Safety as one of its core values and ensures sustainable operations to minimize carbon emissions and environmental impact.

You can book the ticket on the Emirates official website, travel company websites, travel agents, or over the counter. The Emirates Airlines ticket prices can vary depending on your source. To get the latest offers and deals, you can compare the prices of different travel companies before booking.

Etihad Airways “From Abu Dhabi to the World”


Frequent Flyer Program Name: Etihad Guest, Etihad One Club

Revenue (First six months of 2022): $2.29 billion (source)

Etihad Airways and Emirates are the two national airline companies of the UAE. The Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways has its head office in Khalifa City. The company began its operations in 2003. As per Skytrax ranking for 2022, Etihad is at number three in the list of ‘The Best Airline in the Middle East.’ In the UAE, it is the second-largest air carrier. It is also a part of the ‘Lakhs of Luxuries.’ It has also been the recipient of numerous awards from the World Travel Association.

The company has about 98 aircraft in its fleet. There are about 5 aircraft from the Airbus A350 family, 30 aircraft from the Airbus A320 family, about 39 Boeing 787s, and 19 Boeing 777s.  It has about 5 aircraft from the Boeing 777 Freighter family that operates as its cargo fleet.

The company is known for its high standards of comfort and hospitable services. From ergonomic seat design to delectable cuisine on board, and the latest entertainment choices, the airline tops in all niches. The airline flies to about 120 destinations across Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America.

The airline’s leadership team consists of His Excellency Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman, and His Excellency Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, Vice Chairman.

Qatar Airways “Going Places Together”


Member: Oneworld Airline Alliance Group

Frequent Flyer Program Name: Qmiles

Revenue (2021-22): US$ 14.4 billion (source)

Qatar Airways received the winner’s award, ranked top in the customer-voted Skytrax World Airline Awards for ‘The Best Airline in the Middle East 2022.’ It was also voted the ‘Airline of the Year’ in 2022 and 2021. It is no mean achievement for the carrier as it has received this award seven times since 2001.

The Doha-based airline is the national airline of Qatar. Led by His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, the company has grown from strength to strength since its launch in 1997. Today, the company flies to about 150 destinations and six continents on the globe with a fleet that consists of the latest-generation aircraft. The average age of the aircraft in its fleet is about 5 years. It has about 200 aircraft in its fleet and has its hub at the Hamad International Airport, Doha.

During Covid-19, it ensured top safety and hygiene standards and was the first to get the 5-start Covid-19 Airline Safety Rating from Skytrax. No doubt, the air carrier has been voted by customers, time and again, for its professionalism, top service quality, and passenger comfort. Along similar lines, the cuisine served onboard, and its high-tech in-flight audio & video entertainment choices are also nothing short of extraordinary.

Gulf Air “A Class of Our Own”


Frequent Flyer Program Name: Falconflyer

Revenue (2021-22): Not Available

Another top airline from the Middle East is Gulf Air. It is Bahrain’s flagship airline and is state-owned. The origin of the airline dates back to 1950 when it was known as Gulf Aviation, making it one of the first airlines in the Middle East. The company has its head office in Manama and its hub at the Bahrain International Airport. It operates flights to about 28 countries and 55 destinations across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Far East, and the Indian subcontinent.

In Skytrax’s ‘The Best Airline in the Middle East’ for 2022, Gulf Air ranks at number four. The fleet consists of a total of 34 aircraft, including Boeing and Airbus carriers of the wide and narrow variety. Its panache for Arabian hospitality and its farsightedness in aligning services with the changing needs of passengers make it one of the most popular airlines from the Middle East.

Since 2004, Gulf Air has been sponsoring (title sponsor) the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. It is also the official carrier during the Bahrain International Air show since 2010. The company is also one of the 16 airlines to receive Skytrax’s 5-Star Covid-19 Airline Safety Rating.

The CEO of Gulf Air is Captain Waleed Abdulhameed Al Alawi, and the COO is Captain Suhail Abdulhameed Ismaeel.

Saudia “We Aim to Please You”


Member: SkyTeam Air Alliance

Frequent Flyer Program Name: Al Fursan Loyalty

Earlier known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, Saudia is the national airline of Saudi Arabia. It is headquartered in Jeddah, and the main hub of operation is King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah. The secondary hubs of the airline company are King Fahd International Airport in Dammam and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

Following closely behind Emirates and Qatar Airways, Saudia ranks third for the highest revenue generation in the Middle East. There are about 151 aircraft in its fleet that flies to about 100 destinations across Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East, and North America. During Ramadan and the Hajj, the company runs special charter flights in the international and domestic circuit.

Saudi Arabian Airlines saw the light of the day in 1945 after King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud was gifted a Doughlas DC-3 by US President Roosevelt. The company was owned fully by the government and government by the Ministry of Defence.

The company’s Chairman is Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, the Minister of Transport, and the CEO is Captain Ibrahim Koshy.

Oman Air “Modern Vision, Timeless Traditions”


Member: Scheduled to Join Oneworld Alliance in 2024

Frequent Flyer Program Name: Sindbad Frequent Flyer

The state-owned Oman Air is the flag carrier of the Sultanate of Oman. It operates out of the Muscat International Airport at Muscat. It has about 49 aircraft in its fleet and has flights to about 200 destinations due to the Oman Air – Qatar Airways codeshare agreement.

The airline company started its operations in 1993. It has been featured on Skytrax’s ‘The Best Airline in the Middle East 2022.’ The company was also one of the few to receive the Five-Star Covid-19 Airline Safety Rating from Skytrax. In 2021 and 2022, for two consecutive years, the company received the APEX Five-Star Major Airline Ratings.

The company has risen to achieve iconic landmarks, thanks to its ultra-modern fleet with well-appointed interiors and fuel-efficient aircraft supported well by the signature Omani hospitality.

Oman Air is headed by Mohammed Ali Al Barwani as the Chairman, and Eng. Abdul Aziz Al Raisi as the CEO.

Kuwait Airways “Earning Your Trust”


Frequent Flyer Program Name: Oasis Club

Revenue (2021-22): US$14.4 billion

Back in 1954, when the oil boom started to catch speed, the state-owned Kuwait Airways was born. Based out of the Kuwait International Airport, the Kuwaiti national carrier flies to as many as 34 destinations covering majorly the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Europe, and North America.

In 1962, the airline company got its first jet engine; in 1978, it got the first two B748-200s, the wide-body aircraft. As on date, the company has 5 A330-200, 7 A320-200CEO, 10 B777-300ER, 6 A320neo, 2 A330-800neo, and 2 A330-800neo, a total of 32 aircraft.

The company is led by Mr. Ali Al-Dukhan as the Chairman and Mr. Maen Razouqi as the CEO.

Air Arabia “Pay Less. Fly More.”

IATA Code: G9

Member: Arab Air Carriers Organization

Frequent Flyer Program Name: AirRewards

Revenue (2021-22): AED 3.17 billion (source)

Started in 2003, Air Arabia is a low-cost airline operating out of the Sharjah International Airport in UAE. It has five hubs – three in the UAE, including Sharjah, RAK International Airport, and Abu Dhabi; one in Morocco at the Mohamed V International Airport; and one in Egypt at the Borg El Arab International Airport. It flies to about 170 destinations in about 50 countries, mostly covering the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Northern Africa, Europe, and Central Asia.

The fleet consists of about 58 aircraft consisting of Airbus. A320 and A321. The company is led by Mr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman, and Mr. Adel Ali, the Group CEO.

FlyDubai “Get Going”


Frequent Flyer Program Name: Emirates Skywards

Revenue (2021-22): AED 5.3 billion (source)

FlyDubai is a government-owned low-cost airline from Dubai. The carrier operates from the Dubai International Airport, Terminal 2. The first flight of FlyDubai flew from Dubai to Lebanon in Beirut in 2009. The company now operates flights to almost 100 destinations serving the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe. It transported about 70 million passengers in 2020-21, making it the second-largest air carrier from Dubai, passenger movement-wise. It has a fleet size of 63 Boeing 737s.

Budget travel is the main focus of FlyDubai. It offers three ranges of affordable fares – Lite, Value, and Flex to make air travel possible and easier for people with different travel needs. It is headed by Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman, who is a member of the ruling family.

Turkish Airlines “Widen Your World”


Member: Star Alliance

Frequent Flyer Program Name: Miles&Smiles

Revenue (2021-22): $10.68 Billion (source)

One of the oldest airlines from the Middle East is Turkish Airlines. The first flight from the airline flew on 20th May 1933. It is the flagship carrier of Turkey. Today, the airline company covers 340 destinations in 126 countries across five continents. On the basis of passenger destinations, the airline company is the largest passenger carrier in the world. It also has the record for flying the greatest number of non-stop flights from a single airport. It operates from the Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Istanbul.

The leadership team consists of Mr. Ahmet Bolat, Board Chairman, and Mr. Bilal Eksi, CEO & Deputy Chairman.

Royal Jordanian Airlines “The Way You Want to Fly”


Member: Oneworld Airline Alliance Group

Frequent Flyer Program Name: Royal Club

Revenue (Q1 to Q3, 2022): $637.5 Million (source)

Royal Jordanian Airlines is the national airline of Jordan. It operates out of Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. The company has a fleet size of 24 consisting of Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer aircraft. At present, the company covers about 43 destinations worldwide. It started its operations in 1963 as Alia Airlines.

The company is headed by Mr. Samer Majali, President and CEO, and Mr. Saeed Darwazeh, Chairman.

Air Charter International “The Future of Bespoke Aviation”

IATA Code: N/A

Frequent Flyer Program Name: N/A

A leading force in the aviation community since its founding in 1994, Air Charter International (ACI) comprises a multinational team of seasoned industry professionals that enable the company to provide exceptional airplane charter and aircraft leasing solutions globally.

With a “Charter Service Provider of the Year” award under its belt, a head office in Dubai, and network offices in Asia and Europe, ACI caters to clients worldwide by offering a range of outstanding air charter services designed to meet a variety of aviation needs.

Their aircraft leasing services are a flexible and cost-effective solution for expanding client fleets coping with increased demand or exploring new avenues for growth. With nearly three decades of experience, a robust network of affiliates, and a team of aviation specialists, ACI can provide assistance readily, including wet, dry, or damp lease options.

In emergency situations, ACI provides swift and reliable air ambulance services. Their 24/7 team can facilitate air medical transport, repatriation, and personnel evacuation charters at any time. Their specially adapted fleet and highly trained staff ensure clients receive high-quality urgent care and other services.

For discerning clientele seeking comfort, flexibility, safety, and discretion, ACI’s aircraft charter service is unmatched. Their dedicated team tailors flight arrangements to client needs, whether for individuals, groups, or cargo, thanks to ACI’s vast network of over 5,000 affiliate operators servicing 10,000 locations globally.

Air Charter International is headed by its founder and CEO, Stuart Wheeler.


These are the top eleven airline companies operating out of the Middle East. Each living up to its tagline and the vision set by owning companies and states, growing their reach and business with each passing year.