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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 24/02/2013

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Air Arabia began the year with a new passenger traffic record as the Middle East's first low-cost carrier said that it carried almost half a million passengers with more than 82 per cent load factor in January.

Latest statistics released by the Sharjah-based airline show that it carried a total of 492,847 passengers last month, showing an increase of nearly 15 per cent compared to same period in 2012.

This represents the highest number of passengers that the airline handled in a month since its inception.

It is encouraging to begin the year with record passenger numbers, Adel Ali, group chief executive officer, Air Arabia, said in a statement to Khaleej Times on Saturday.

The record number demonstrates the strength of Air Arabia - offering affordable fares to an ever growing range of destinations. As we embark on a new growth journey, we remain committed to millions of passengers who choose to fly with Air Arabia, whether for business or leisure purposes, he added.

The airline has witnessed a steady increase in passenger numbers in 2012. Last year, the low-cost pioneer carried has 5.3 million passengers, an increase of over 13 per cent compared to 2011. It reported Dh425 million net profit and 21 per cent revenue growth to Dh2.9 billion in 2012.

Load factor, fleet expansion

The airlines seat load factor - passengers as a percentage of total seats available - stood at an impressive 82.5 per cent, further demonstrating the growing popularity of the Air Arabias value for money services. The airline recorded an impressive 82 per cent seat-load factor last year. As customer demand soars, fleet expansion becomes a top priority for the airline. January 2013 seen the airline taking delivery of its first fuel-saving Sharklet-equipped aircraft from Airbus, and has become the first airline in the Middle East to operate a Sharklet-equipped A320 aircraft. The airline is due to receive five more aircraft this year.

The airline took delivery of six new A320 aircraft from Airbus in 2012 as part of an order for 44 aircraft placed in 2007. At present, it operates a total fleet of 33 new Airbus A320 aircraft, serving 83 routes from three hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt.

The airline, which started operations in October 2003, introduced nine new destination in 2012 from its primary hub in Sharjah - Kazan, Taif, Salalah, Ufa, Odessa, Erbil, Astana, Basra and Rostov. In addition, the airline has continued its expansion from its hubs in Morocco and Egypt.


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