The launch of Qatar Airways on 23 January highlights a trend for a growing number of national airlines to be established in the GCC. If current plans are implemented, the number will soon reach eight (see Qatar).

Abu Dhabi has commissioned a study for its own independent airline; Bahrain is expected to announce the formation of its airline, Dilmun, in mid-February. At the same time, Oman Aviation is expanding and is flying to international destinations (MEED 2:7:93). The trend could be for the national airlines to operate shuttle services within the Gulf, with regional carriers Gulf Air, Emirates and Kuwait Airways concentrating on destinations outside the region, observers say.