Sharjah-based Air Arabia, the newly designated carrier of Ras Al Khaimah, will begin operations from the RAK International Airport from May 6, 2014, it was announced on Tuesday.
The low-cost carrier will offer direct services to eight routes including Jeddah in Saudi, Cairo in Egypt, Muscat in Oman, Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Calicut in India – which will be added shortly after launch, a statement said.
Two new Airbus A320 aircraft will initially be based at RAK International Airport to operate the services.
Air Arabia entered into a long-term strategic partnership with the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Civil Aviation in February 2014, becoming the emirate’s designated carrier following RAK Airways’ closure.
RAK Airways suspended all its operations starting from January 1, 2014 owing to rising financial pressure.
Along with increasing the accessibility of Ras Al Khaimah to international passengers, the partnership is anticipated to provide a “direct boost to the local economy through the increase in tourism flow as well as the job opportunities for Air Arabia employees who will be permanently based at RAK International Airport,” the statement said.
Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, chairman, Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), Ras Al Khaimah, said: “As our designated carrier, Air Arabia’s operations will be a key component of a comprehensive strategy to develop a vibrant, distinct and sustainable tourism sector in Ras Al Khaimah to rival the most established destinations in the region.”
The emirate welcomed 1.2 million tourists last year, with 70 per cent of the visitors coming from Germany, Russia and the UAE. RAK is also investing heavily in the sector to promote further growth, with plans to have 10,000 hotel rooms available by 2016.
Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia said: “The increase in tourists and visitors entering Ras 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.”
The airline currently operates services to 90 destinations across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the Indian Subcontinent from operating hubs in Sharjah, Alexandria, Casablanca, and now Ras Al Khaimah.