Petra Airlines Receives Approval for Scheduled Services

Independent Jordanian carrier Petra Airlines will inaugurate scheduled passenger services from next spring after the Jordanian Civil Aviation Authority approved its application to switch its activities from the charter to scheduled market.  Petra Airlines was founded in 2005 as a division of the Rum Group, but did not launch operations until October 2010 when it took delivery of its first aircraft.  Over the subsequent two years it has operated two Airbus A320s on charter work - ad hoc flying, ACMIs and tour operator packages - across a network that has included destinations in Armenia, Egypt, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Having now proved itself in the local market for two years, Petra Airlines has decided to expand into the scheduled market and having fulfilled all the technical and economic requirements to be a schedule operator has now received a new operating licence from Jordanian authorities.  It plans to take advantage of the Open Skies arrangements between Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the European Union as well as the ending of exclusive traffic rights for national carrier Royal Jordanian to become a credible alternative to the flag carrier. 

“We have gained experience and positioned our brand in the regional market while gaining the consumers and stakeholders confidence,” Riad Khashman, Chief Executive Officer, Petra Airlines told The HUB in an exclusive interview this week.  “We have now completed the first phase of operation successfully and are moving towards the next phase as the first low-cost carrier in Jordan.”  The carrier is expected to begin scheduled services in March 2013 from a base at Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital Amman. 

To support its scheduled growth Petra Airlines has already committed to increasing its fleet.  It initially launched operations with two A320s and it has already agreed terms to add a third aircraft of the same type in early 2013.  “We have plans to operate 5 A320s by 2014 and have a schedule flight to most of the major cities in the MENA and GCC regions using Queen Alia International Airport in Amman as a hub,” added Riad Khashman.

Petra Airlines has also announced a plan to increase its registered capital to $70 million, while it has launched a tender to appoint an international aviation consultancy to develop a future business plan and ultimately a deal to secure a strategic low-cost airline partner.  “We are particularly looking at a European low-cost carrier as we can provide them with the necessary platform to expand in this key business region,” said Riad Khashman.

Ahead of these developments and its scheduled growth, the carrier has become a member of the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO).  This partnership provides Petra Airlines with valuable opportunities for creating synergies through the joint projects with other AACO, particularly establishing bilateral links with potential airline partners.  “AACO is an important association for us to be incorporated into this collaboration,” said Riad Khashman.  “I believe that this cooperation will provide great opportunities and will be beneficial for us and all the member airlines.”

In our statistical analysis below we show the largest carriers in the Jordanian international market this year.  As would be expected, Royal Jordanian dominates with a 55.9 per cent share of the 4.28 million seats available during November 2012.  Its closest rival is Emirates Airline with a 4.6 per cent share of seat capacity during the year.  However, it has been a challenging 12 months for Jordan’s national airline.  The oneworld alliance member has reduced capacity by 1.3 per cent in 2012 in comparison to the previous year due to challenges in the region, while its largest foreign airline rivals continue to grow: Emirates Airline (up 5.3 per cent), EgyptAir (up 27.5 per cent) and Turkish Airlines (up 2.7 per cent).  On a positive note, Royal Jordanian’s decline is less than the market average of 2.5 per cent.

SCHEDULED INTERNATIONAL AIR SERVICES FROM JORDAN (non-stop departures; January 2012 – December 2012)

Rank

Airline

Departures

Available Seats

% Network Capacity

Seat Change Capacity (vs 2011)

1

Royal Jordanian (RJ)

17,932

2,392,983

55.9 %

(-1.3) %

2

Emirates Airline (EK)

695

197,598

4.6 %

5.3 %

3

EgyptAir (MS)

1,099

150,371

3.5 %

27.5 %

4

Turkish Airlines (TK)

725

127,449

3.0 %

2.7 %

5

Middle East Airlines (ME)

732

97,433

2.3 %

(-2.5) %

6

Saudi Arabian Airlines (SV)

734

96,888

2.3 %

5.6 %

7

Flydubai (FZ)

509

96,201

2.2 %

(-19.3) %

8

Etihad Airways (EY)

732

95,142

2.2 %

0.3 %

9

Royal Falcon (RL)

477

78,358

1.8 %

(-26.9) %

10

Gulf Air (GF)

590

77,854

1.8 %

36.2 %

(Others)

5,765

872,993

20.4 %

(-9.9) %

TOTAL

29,990

4,283,270

-

(-2.5) %