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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 24/07/2013

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) RAK Airways is adding two more destinations from next month as the airline plans to launch its first Levant entry through Jordan's capital and also starting flight to Pakistan's capital.

The full-service airline on Tuesday announced its entry to two capital cities - Amman and Islamabad. Services to the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Dammam will follow as per the airline's plan to launch five new destinations this year. With a total fleet size of two aircraft, the carrier currently operates nine routes that include Jeddah, Doha, Cairo, Lahore, Peshawar, Calicut, Dhaka, Chittagong, and Kathamndu.

"We have a plan to touch 40 destinations by 2015 and will make first route expansion announcement within five weeks for five new routes," RAK Airways president and chief executive officer Murabit Al Sawaf told Khaleej Times earlier this month.

Al Sawaf on Tuesday announced the launch of Islamabad on August 5 and Amman on August 7, 2013. The carrier is expected to add two more aircraft in its fleet this year.

Islamabad is RAK Airways' third entry point into destination Pakistan. In 2011, the airline made its first entry into Pakistan with two-weekly flights to Lahore and Peshawar. In the first half of 2013, the airline increased its frequency to Lahore and Peshawar from two to three flights a week, to meet passenger demand.

With a significant presence of Pakistani nationals, contributing to the economy of the UAE, RAK Airways is glad to provide another entry into Pakistan, through the launch of Islamabad, Al Sawaf said.

RAK Airways has seen a strategic growth path since its relaunch in 2010 and there has been no turning back. The airline saw passenger numbers to the tune of 300,000 in 2012 and in the first quarter of 2013, the numbers have jumped to 40 per cent.

Speaking about the launch of Amman, Al Sawaf said: "As for the launch of Amman, I must say that this is the first entry of RAK Airways into the levant region. With the inauguration of RAK-Amman route and a one way fare of Dh400, we look forward to encourage more passenger traffic - leisure, business and tourism from Ras Al Khaimah to Jordan and from UAE to Jordan as well, thus positively impacting the tourism and industry of both the economies."

Talks for jet order

RAK Airways said it's in talks with Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier about an order for at least 10 single-aisle aircraft to meet expansion plans.

State-backed airline is looking at the existing versions of the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus's A320, together with the new CSeries jet from Canada's Bombardier, and aims to make a choice by the end of this year or early in 2014, Al Sawaf said.

"Ras Al Khaimah is growing in an aggressive way, so we should be as aggressive as the government," he said. "In five years I want the company to be one of the major airlines in the region. In five to 15 years we'll be on a curve to go upwards to have a worldwide position and international identity."

To meet immediate expansion plans, the company has signed a deal with International Lease Finance Corp to take an Airbus A319 and crew in two weeks and an A320 in two months. The carrier will need external funding for the planned order and has kept all options open, including bank loans, manufacturer financing and a bond issue, the CEO said. The airline could consider a share sale in the future, he added.

 






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