How Many MENA Budget Airlines Are There and Are They Operating Flights Yet?

Published September 10th, 2020 - 03:00 GMT
How Many MENA Budget Airlines Are There and Are They Operating Flights Yet?
Budget airlines have made it easier and more affordable for people to fly across the world in search of new experiences and perspectives. (Shutterstock: Plamen Galabov)

It's no secret that travel has increasingly become an integral part of human experiences even amongst those who find it difficult to afford its expenses. In today's world, travel is much more than a luxury vacation activity that is sought by people of all ages but particularly young ones who can only afford travel onboard low-cost airlines.

Over the last twenty years, the world has witnessed a number of revolutionary travel services that have made it easier and more affordable for people to fly across the world in search of new experiences and perspectives.

In the MENA region, there are currently 8 budget air carriers, one of which with different hubs across the region, but all operating within the Arab World and across the globe, all providing non-luxury but comfortable travel services that are worth every penny, compared to, sometimes overpriced airlines.

Usually, a low-budget airline would offer standard prices of about or less than $100 per trip which only includes a traveler's seat and one carry-on, while tickets prices start to rise as travelers choose some of the add-on services available, such as ordering meals during the trip or being allowed a number of suitcases.

This flexibility available to travelers looking for affordable travel options, especially as they travel through relatively short destinations, has gradually allowed more people to explore the world and become travel enthusiasts. It has also encouraged tourism in countries served by such airlines.

1. Air Arabia - UAE, Egypt, Morocco

The Sharjah-based airline is considered the Middle East's very first low-cost carrier. Established in 2003, Air Arabia has 5 different hubs in the region, in the UAE, Egypt, and Morocco, and flies to over 150 destinations using 57 airplanes.

Ever since COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were eased in the UAE last June, the airlines have been able to resume work but only to countries that have opened their spaces to commercial flights.

2. Fly Nas - KSA

Saudi's first budget-airline was founded in Riyadh in 2007 as Nas Air before re-branding under the name Fly Nas in 2013. 

Using a 36-air jet fleet, Fly Nas flies between Saudi Arabia's cities to 35 destinations all so far in the Middle East.

In May 2020, Fly Nas announced the resumption of all domestic flights within Saudi Arabia.

3. Flyadeal - KSA

The Jedda-based budget airline was founded in 2016 and has since been operating flights between 11 different Saudi cities, as it remains an exclusively domestic airline using 11 different aircrafts.

Flyadeal had announced that it's flying its passengers across Saudi Arabia again starting from the 31st of May 2020.

4. Air Cairo - Egypt

Founded in 2003 and owned by EgyptAir, the National Bank of Egypt, and Bank Misr, the airline consists of 8 different airplanes serving 29 destinations across the Middle East and Europe.

Following a decision by the Egyptian government to resume international travel last June, Air Cairo and other Egyptian based carriers started flying again but only to destinations where international travel has also been allowed.

5. Fly Egypt - Egypt

The single class charter owns 7 airplanes that fly across Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

6. Salam Air - UAE

Oman's only low-cost carrier was founded in 2016 and is based in the capital city Muscat and is owned by the Muscat National Development and Investment Company. 

Operating using 6 air jets, Salam Air across 27 different destinations in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

7. Fly Dubai

Owned by the Dubai government, Fly Dubai was founded in 2008 and has been flying passengers to over 90 different destinations both regionally and internationally.

As in November 2019, the $3.75 billion worth company had announced that it operates using a fleet of 54 air jets. 

Fly Dubai has resumed work following the UAE's decision to resume commercial flights after controlling the spread of the Coronavirus back in June.

8. Wizz Arabia - UAE

The recently established airline based in Abu Dhabi, is expected to operate its first flights at the beginning of October 2020, flying to 6 different destinations, including Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Georgia, Armenia, and Ukraine.

Do you prefer flying onboard low-budget airlines or do you value the comfort and extra services offered on standard airlines?


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