Air Arabia Confirms Baghdad Expansion

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Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen,
Editor, Routesonline

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Air Arabia Confirms Baghdad Expansion

United Arab Emirates (UAE) low-cost carrier Air Arabia is to inaugurate services between its Sharjah International Airport base and the Iraqi capital Baghdad, its fourth destination in the country.  The budget operator will provide a three times weekly link from March 10, 2013, increasing to five times weekly at a subsequent date.   The new flight will cater for the growing demand for air services into Iraq to support business and a mobile migrant workforce.

With the launch of the new service, Air Arabia will now operate 23 weekly services to Iraq, making it one of the growing markets for the carrier.  In addition to Baghdad, Air Arabia currently offers non-stop services to Basra, Erbil, and Najaf.  The airline first launched flights to Najaf in March 2011 before introducing services to Basra and Erbil in January this year.

"Three months since we launched our last destination in Iraq, we are delighted to spread our wings further into the country, with the launch of services to the Capital city, said, Adel Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia.  "Iraq is a market of focus for Air Arabia and today's announcement further reiterates the commitment that we place on serving the Iraqi market."

The demand for air services between UAE and Iraq has been growing significantly.  In 2011 an estimated 152,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled between the two countries, according to MIDT data, up 45.7 per cent on the previous year.  A much higher rate of growth will be seen when full year 2012 figures are released with O&D traffic up over 140 per cent during the first eleven months of 2012, versus the same period the previous year, with numbers exceeding 325,000.  There is also growing demand for transit services in and out of Iraq via the UAE’s major gateways with over 175,000 bi-directional O&D passengers routing via Dubai International Airport in 2012, approximately 85,000 via Abu Dhabi International Airport and 40,000 on Air Arabia’s own network via Sharjah International Airport.

In the table below we highlight the tremendous growth in scheduled air capacity between UAE and Iraq since flights commenced in 2009: flight departures have increased seven-fold and seat capacity has grown over 965 per cent.  Although there are currently no direct flights between Sharjah and Baghdad fellow UAE carriers Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways offer flights from their respective hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while flydubai and Iraqi Airways also operate links to Dubai.

SCHEDULED AIR SERVICES FROM UNITED ARAB EMIRATES TO IRAQ (non-stop, one-way departures)

Year

Departures

% Change

Seat Capacity

% Change

2009

486

 

52,488

 

2010

967

99.0 %

121,505

131.5 %

2011

1,837

90.0 %

273,849

125.4 %

2012

3,206

74.5 %

559,344

104.3 %

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