Air Arabia gears up for return of Mideast tourists

SHARJAH - While Air Arabia is still in talks with authorities to operate flights to India, the airline is gearing up for the return of a number of tourists from the Middle East region next month.

By Ramona Ruiz

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Published: Wed 21 Jul 2004, 11:48 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:48 PM

"We had been operating additional flights to meet the summer demand, particularly in certain destinations as Egypt and Syria. Our passenger load factor is 80 per cent for June. We are anticipating a huge demand for passengers next month, as they will be returning to the UAE following their vacation," A.K. Nizar, Commercial Manager, Air Arabia, told Khaleej Timeso yesterday.

Mr Nizar said that extra flights might be necessary for people travelling from Egypt, Syria and Khartoum. "We have been running in full capacity in certain segments in June and this month as well. We feel that a low-cost airline like Air Arabia has been the missing link for a long time."

Asked about the low-cost airline's plans to expand its current number of destinations, he said: "To date, we fly to 14 destinations, with Saudi Arabia being the latest addition. We are focusing on launching flights to key destinations within the Middle East, North Africa and Indian Subcontinent region. Before we decide on launching flights to certain destinations, we undertake feasibility studies and seek government approval."

He disclosed that Air Arabia was in discussions with the Yemeni government to operate flights to the country. "Hopefully, we will get the green signal and launch flights to Yemen before the year," Mr Nizar stated.

Air Arabia, a Sharjah government-owned company, is currently flying from Sharjah to Bahrain daily, Beirut daily, Damascus five days a week, Kuwait four days a week, Muscat five days a week, Alexandria daily, Assiut two days a week, Aleppo two days a week, Doha six days a week, Khartoum two days a week and Colombo four days a week.

Commenting on observations by officials from conventional airlines that low-cost airlines will not be successful and operate on outdated aircraft, he said: "We have a 80 per cent load factor, and our passengers serve as testimony that we are well-received by the market. Business has been encouraging, and most of our passengers are repeat customers. According to customer feedback, passengers are comfortable with our aircraft. They realise that they can travel in a low-cost airline which is efficient, comfortable and affordable."

He added: "Some are still hesitant to fly with Air Arabia. However, there is a growing interest in our airline. It has been the talk of the town. There is a market for both conventional and low-cost airlines. Why have Southwest Airlines, EasyJet, Ryanair, Aero Asia been so successful? We have a niche market. Conventional and low-cost airlines complement each other."

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