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Air Arabia and Pakistani group to launch budget airline 'Fly Jinnah'

Muzaffar Rizvi/Islamabad
Filed on September 3, 2021
Reuters

The low-cost carrier will fly domestic and international routes


Air Arabia on Friday announced another joint venture (JV) after Fly Arna as it collaboared with one of Pakistan’s leading business conglomerates Lakson Group to launch a low-cost airline, Fly Jinnah.

The proposed JV will set up a budget carrier serving domestic and international routes from Pakistan, catering to a population of 220 million.

Work on securing an air operating certificate (AOC) will commence shortly and details about the launch date, fleet and destination network will be announced in due course. Aviation sources said the new airline is expected to take off early next year.

“Fly Jinnah will serve the strategic vision of Pakistan’s travel and tourism sector and contribute to the country’s economic growth and job creation, while providing Pakistanis with reliable and value for money air travel,” a statement said.

Air Jinnah will be latest entrant in Pakistan’s growing aviation market after SereneAir and Air Sial. Alvir Airways also secured a licence to operate domestic flights. Pakistan International Airlines is the only listed carrier in the country while airblue is the oldest active airline in the private sector.

Jet Green Airline and Q-Airlines are also in process to secure an AOC.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan threw his support to the JV via Twitter.

“I welcome @airarabiagroup to Pakistan & wish them success in their partnership with local investors to establish a new Pakistani airline, FLY JINNAH. My govt is committed to attracting investment in Pakistan’s burgeoning travel & tourism sector which offers immense opportunities,” he wrote.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of Air Arabia, said Fly Jinnah will initially be based in Karachi, serving a range of domestic routes across Pakistan and then will expand its route network internationally.

He said the new carrier will follow the low-cost business model and provide its customer base with a reliable operation and value-driven product.

“We are confident that Fly Jinnah will add value to the air transport sector of Pakistan and directly contribute to the local economy through job creation and the development of the travel and tourism sector,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

Iqbal Ali Lakhani, chairman of Lakson Group, said Fly Jinnah will serve Pakistan’s travel and tourism sector and will play a constructive role in contributing to the nation’s economic growth.

“This partnership also reflects our commitment to support the development of Pakistan’s air transport sector while providing the citizens and visitors of the country with a new option of value for money air travel. Air Arabia enjoys a track-record of reliable and efficient operations, and we look forward to working closely towards launching and developing the new airline,” Lakhani said.

According to the International Air Transport Association, the air transport industry, including airlines and its supply chain along with the tourism spend — are estimated to support $3.3 billion of GDP in Pakistan. In total, about one per cent of the country’s GDP is supported by inputs to the air transport sector and foreign tourists arriving by air.

- muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com





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