DUMBAI – India’s SpiceJet has decided to make Ras Al Khaimah its hub and also plans to launch an airline which will be based at RAK International Airport.
According to the Khaleej Times, the budget carrier signed a memorandum of understanding with the RAK International Airport on Wednesday to start direct flights between RAK and New Delhi from December 2019. It will operate five flights a week and aims to gradually increase the frequency.
Ajay Singh, chairman of SpiceJet, said they have applied for a licence for the new airline which will operate from Ras Al Khaimah and is slated to take off next year.
It will be the sixth airline to operate from the UAE after Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, flydubai and the recently-announced Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
“We are looking to establish an airlines locally based in Ras Al Khaimah. We are applying for certification shortly and the approval will take around three to six months. The new airline will help connect India with Eastern and Western European destination using RAK as hub,” Singh told media during a press briefing on Wednesday.
He revealed that around four to five jets will be based in Ras Al Khaimah and those will be 737 Max series after they have been certified by the US regulator.
“We are looking to see Ras Al Khaimah become a stepping stone into European destinations. There is already good traffic between RAK and Europe and we are connecting Europe to India via Ras Al Khaimah. This is our first international hub,” he said, adding that airports in India are getting congested and with new aircraft coming for SpiceJet, the carrier is forced to look at alternatives in the region.”
The airline has been massive expanding its operations of late. Singh last month said they were discussing an order for at least 100 Airbus planes worth $13 billion. In 2016-17, it placed an order for up to 205 Max aircraft, including firm order for 155 such planes. But it had grounded 13 Boeing 737 Max after the crash of two aircraft operated by other airlines.
SpiceJet chief said the name and destinations for the new airline are still at the discussion stage.
He stressed that there is a strong potential to make Ras Al Khaimah hub for connectivity with Africa, Middle East and Europe. “Ras Al Khaimah sees strong European tourist inflow so it merits a direct connectivity between.”
Currently, Sharjah-based budget carrier Air Arabia flies from RAK International Airport to certain destinations in Pakistan and Gulf countries.
Singh also see a strong potential in logistics space. ”We have started SpiceJet freighter aircraft and we will be expanding on that as well. We are trying to create a logistics hub at RAK airport for aircraft maintenance and repair operations.”
Sheikh Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation Ras Al Khaimah, said they are working towards upgrading travellers experience and adding more routes to and from Ras al Khaimah.
“We continue to develop an extensive portfolio of destinations and airlines for our passengers as we perceive an consistently developing demand for visitors and tourists coming to Ras al Khaimah,” said Sanjay Khanna, CEO of RAK International Airport.