Dubai, October 23: India's budget carrier SpiceJet on Wednesday announced plans to launch a new airline with the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport as its base, as well as set up its first overseas hub in the UAE emirate. SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said at a press conference in Ras Al Khaimah that the carrier is looking to make the emirate its stepping stone into Europe, and has been mulling an international hub as India's airports become more congested, according to media reports.
Expanding its overseas operations, SpiceJet will start direct flights from Delhi to Ras Al Khaimah. The no-frills carrier would start direct services from Delhi to the emirate from December and would operate flights five times a week. "SpiceJet's projected plan includes making Ras Al Khaimah as their first international hub," Ras Al Khaimah International Airport said in a release on Wednesday. DGCA Orders Checking of 23 Boeing 737 NG Aircraft of SpiceJet After Cracks Found by FAA in United States: Reports.
By making Ras Al Khaimah, the northernmost emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as its international hub, the airline aims to boost its connectivity to the Gulf as well as to European destinations. The airline said it sees "tremendous potential" in Ras Al Khaimah, and will start basing aircraft at the emirate in December 2019, the Gulf News reported.
SpiceJet signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the RAK International Airport on Wednesday to start direct flights between RAK and New Delhi from December, Khaleej Times reported. Singh said they have applied for a licence for setting up a new airline which will operate from Ras Al Khaimah and is slated to take off next year.
"We are looking to establish an airline 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 said.
SpiceJet will be the sixth airline to operate from the UAE after Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, flydubai and the recently-announced Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
Singh said 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.
He also noted 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 SpiceJet chief also said the name and destinations for the new airline are still at the discussion stage. According to him, there is a strong potential to make Ras Al Khaimah a hub for connectivity with Africa, Middle East and Europe.
"Ras Al Khaimah sees strong European tourist inflow so it merits a direct connectivity between," the Khaleej Times report quoted Singh as saying.
Currently, Sharjah-based budget carrier Air Arabia flies from RAK International Airport to certain destinations in Pakistan and Gulf countries. Singh said he also saw 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," he added. In the release, Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Board of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, said through the partnership, it not only aims to connect India but also assist SpiceJet to create network hub at Ras Al Khaimah to go further to Europe, "meeting the needs of Indian tourist as well as facilitating easy travel solution for tourist arriving to Ras Al Khaimah from Europe".
He is also the Chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation Ras Al Khaimah.
Singh said the airline is delighted to add Ras Al Khaimah as its 11th international destination. "With more than 3,400 Indian companies headquartered in Ras Al Khaimah, we see great potential in this route.
Partnering with Ras Al Khaimah International Airport will help expand our operations and we see it as the way for SpiceJet to grow within the UAE, Europe and beyond," he said in the release. The budget carrier has been expanding its Indian as well as international operations aggressively in recent months. SpiceJet to Shift All Flights at Delhi's IGI Airport From T2 to T3, IndiGo to Partially Change Terminal.
Currently, SpiceJet operates 590 average daily flights to 63 destinations, including 53 domestic and 10 international ones. It has a fleet of 77 Boeing 737s, 32 Bombardier Q-400s and four Boeing 737 freighters, as per the release.