Rule change will not hit airline business

DUBAI - Airlines have categorically stated that their business will not be affected by the cancellation of the law that visitors to the UAE must leave the country before re-entering with a new visa.

By Ramona Ruiz

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Published: Fri 13 Feb 2004, 12:37 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:41 PM

Kish Airlines will not be severely affected by the cancellation of visa-change flights as this facility is only one of its main businesses, according to an airline official.

Speaking to Khaleej Times yesterday, Mohammed Noufal, sales and marketing manager of Kish Airlines, said: "Visa-change flights facility is just one of our main businesses. We offer holiday packages and also cater to business travellers to Kish island. Visa change has been synonymous to Kish Airline for the last four to five years, but we also operate other flights to certain destinations and promote tourism in the mainland such as Isfahan. We have daily flights to Bahrain, four weekly flights to Muscat, and flights from Teheran to Copenhagen."

He added that the airline even had plans of increasing its flights to Muscat from four to seven by the first week of March. "However, it remains to be seen whether we will push through with our plans after the accident," he admitted.

Mr Noufal stressed that the recent plane crash involving its Fokker-50 plane was an accident, and that it was not due to the age of the aircraft or the lack of maintenance to the aircraft. He said that Kish Airline's current fleet of eight aircraft has a maximum age of 10 years.

"The investigation has not been completed, and a negative perception of the airline has been portrayed. We hope that the media would give us the benefit of the doubt. We would like to emphasise that we will support the families of the passengers," he said.

Sabreen Sabry, Country Manager, UAE of Oman Air, said: "We appreciate the decision taken by the President, His Highness Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to cancel the visa flights. Oman Air has a high frequency as it operates six to seven flights daily. This allows much flexibility for visa change passengers who would like to come back to Dubai on the next available flight to Dubai. Visa change is not a main segmentation for us and it does not constitute a high yield. We cater to business and leisure travellers, transit passengers and normal passengers. We can now allocate the seats taken by the visa change passengers to other passengers who connect from Oman to other destinations."

Chan Gammampila, Qatar Airways' District Sales Manager, Dubai and Northern Emirates, said: "Visa change flights have been operated by low-cost airlines, while Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Gulf Air and Emirates have some visa change passengers. Our visa change traffic has significantly been reduced and the new law will have minimal effects on Qatar Airways. In fact, we only have three to four visa change passengers a day. Our airline is a scheduled, commercial airline, and we operate flights to Doha and beyond to our network of 48 destinations."

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the effect of the cancellation of visa change flights on the airline, a Queshm Air official told Khaleej Times: "We are still in shock. We have been deluged with calls from relatives of the dead passengers of the Kish Airline flight. We chartered that flight."

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