The new Easy Jet of the Middle East?

A new no-frills, low-cost, internet booking airline is ready for take off from the UAE. Air Arabia is scheduled to commence operations from October 2003.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  September 9, 2003

Emirates Airlines, Gulf Air the goliaths of airspace in the Middle East could have a new David if Air Arabia takes off. The new no-frills airline is scheduled to start operations from October 28, 2003 -7 weeks from now. Positioned as a national carrier of UAE operating from the Emirate of Sharjah, Air Arabia aspires to be the Easy Jet of the Middle East.

Serving to Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, it plans to use the internet and IT extensively to streamline operations and cut down costs bypassing the cost intensive offline travel agents model. Starting next month passengers can do all their booking, flight schedules and payments from www.airarabia.com.

Commenting on UAE's third national airline, Adel Ali, Air Arabia's CEO comments, 'Air Arabia introduces a new business model to the region which has proven successful throughout the world. We envisage creating an airline that will grant citizens of this region the chance to enjoy the benefits of low fares, ease of booking and transparency of service'.

EasyJet (www.easyjet.com), which pioneered this successful no-frills, internet operations model, is Europe's leading low-cost airline serving over 12 million customers last year alone.

The new Arab airline was established in February 2003 by an Ameeri decree issued by His Highness Dr. Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, The Ruler of Sharjah and Member of The Supreme Council of the UAE.

Ali Al Kamali, Managing Director of Datamatix, who are organizing the region's major e-ticketing event this week explains, 'The region's aviation industry, particularly the travel industry is experiencing a change in its functionality influenced by the latest innovations in e-ticketing technology. With the explosive growth of the internet, e-ticketing provides amazing opportunities for enhancing service and improving cost efficiency like in most major countries.'

The fledgling airline has plenty of challenges ranging from low Internet penetration in the Middle East to minimal credit card usage. Ofcourse Emirates and Gulf Air wouldn't just sit back and watch the show. Both airlines have some form of basic online/telephone ticketing service available already.

The initial route network would cover Baghdad, Bahrain, Beirut, Doha, Kuwait, Muscat and Tehran. In the second tier of operations from April 2004, Air Arabia would cover Colombo and Khartoum.

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