Air Arabia eyes more Bahrain flights
Manama, December 22, 2013
By Avinash Saxena
Sharjah-based budget carrier Air Arabia is keen on increasing its flights to Bahrain, the airline's launch destination, said a top official.
Air Arabia group chief executive Adel Ali feels it is unfair that the airline has not yet been allowed to increase its flight frequency into the kingdom.
In an exclusive interview with the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, following the airline's achievement of the key milestone of a decade of operations, Ali, who's a Bahraini, said as the launch destination, Bahrain held a very special place in the Air Arabia route network.
Air Arabia's first flight took off from its hub in Sharjah and landed in Manama on October 28, 2003.
"For an open market like Bahrain and taking into consideration the great tourism and economic ties between both nations, there is a great opportunity for us to further invest in additional flights to Bahrain which would potentially benefit the Bahraini economy," he said.
"Over the last 10 years, our operations to Bahrain have grown from just a few weekly flights to 14 weekly non-stop services between UAE and Bahrain," he remarked.
Ali added that the airline enjoyed a high average seat load factor on its Bahrain services, making it one of the most popular destinations.
"We witness significant demand from Bahraini nationals and residents who travel between UAE and Bahrain on a regular basis. In fact, a large number of Air Arabia employees are from Bahrain and they travel very frequently," he said.
"As we enter into the second decade of operations, it is our ambition to operate services to all airports in the Arab world, stretching from Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean," remarked Ali.
According to him, the growing economies, increasing numbers of tourists and ongoing economic diversification will further drive demand for low-cost aviation, which was pioneered by Air Arabia.
"However, the enormous regional benefits of a thriving aviation industry mean there is a real urgency to address the challenges," he noted..
"Absence of true open-skies policies and the lack of privatisation in the Arab world remain great barriers to the progress of the sector," he said.
According to him, considering that the Arab region has a population of approximately 350 million, if skies were to be opened up and free flow of tourists was allowed, the size of the regional aviation sector would be the same as that of America.
When asked what he saw as key differentiators, Mr Ali said leveraging phenomena like social media, mobile apps and technology 'big data' and 'cloud computing' would bring in greater customer engagement and efficiency benefits.
Reflecting the strong commitment the airline places on identifying new areas within online and mobile platforms, Air Arabia, he said, was one of the first to launch a mobile website, allowing passengers to access the website from any smartphone, anywhere in the world.
"Air Arabia also puts digital communications channels at the heart of its business model, with its Facebook and Twitter accounts playing a critical role in engaging with customers," he added.-TradeArabia News Service