United Arab Emirates (UAE) low-cost carrier, Air Arabia, has confirmed it will base two new Airbus A320s at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport from next month as it attempts to fill the void left in the emirate following the collapse of RAK Airways at the start of this year. This will be the budget carrier’s fourth hub across the Gulf and North African regions and comes after it signed an agreement with the Ras Al Khaimah government in February declaring it the official carrier for the emirate.
The airline will launch flights on eight routes across six countries from May 16, 2014, despite its own Sharjah International Airport hub being just 80km away. According to chief executive officer, Adel Ali, the new Ras Al Khaimah hub was a "viable business option" for the carrier and will support the emirate’s ambitions to promote itself as a tourist destination and compete with neighbouring Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) and the Tourism Development Authority, Ali said Air Arabia will follow exactly the same value-for-money business model as it does from its primary base in Sharjah. “It's a growing market and we are all seeing its financial growth. We are positive that challenges that will emerge from this hub are manageable.”
“The increase in tourists and visitors entering Rasl Al Khaimah suggests that a solid potential for developing the emirate travel and tourism sector exists. This partnership offers enormous potential benefit not only to the local aviation industry but to the overall economy,” he added.
Air Arabia’s Ras Al Khaimah network will initially encompass Cairo, Egypt; Calicut, India; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Muscat, Oman and Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan. According to data from OAG Schedules Analyser, all but Muscat were previously served by RAK Airways at the time of its closure, although the Oman capital was previously linked to Ras Al Khaimah on an up to daily basis by Oman Air between May 2010 and February 2011.
“Air Arabia is well positioned to cater to the travel needs of the Northern Emirates, a position we believe will deliver real value to our customers and shareholders while transforming the region’s tourism sector by bringing millions of potential new visitors within just a few hours’ reach,” said Ali.