Jordan looks to low-cost aviation to promote affordable tourism

Published May 19th, 2015 - 07:59 GMT

Jordan is counting on low-cost aviation to reach new destinations and organise regular direct flights from traditional ones to further promote its brand as a safe destination, especially for tourism, Transport Minister Lina Shbeeb said on Monday.

Speaking at a ceremony marking Air Arabia Jordan’s inaugural flight to Kuwait, the minister said the low-cost carrier will enhance competition in the aviation sector, yet must sustain high-quality services. 

Air Arabia Jordan is Air Arabia’s fifth fixed-based operation globally, located at the Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA). 

The airline’s two Airbus A320 aircraft are scheduled to operate flights to Jeddah, Erbil and Sharm El Sheikh this week.

“As QAIA was recently ranked the number one airport in the Middle East service-wise, demand is now higher on airlines matching that quality,” Shbeeb noted.

Air Arabia will provide Jordan-based passengers with cost-effective options to travel across the region, while offering “excellent value-for-money” opportunities for regional travellers to visit Jordan, according to Riad Khashman, chairman of Air Arabia Jordan.

“Air Arabia Jordan will play an important role in supporting the ongoing economic growth and tourism development of Jordan,” he said, adding that the airline’s fleet will grow as business demands.

Kjeld Binger, CEO of the Airport International Group, the consortium responsible for the rehabilitation, expansion and operation of QAIA, cited Air Arabia Jordan as an example of “good entrepreneurship”.

Earlier this year, Air Arabia announced the establishment of its fifth international hub in Jordan following the acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in Petra Airlines, with its principle shareholder RUM Group maintaining a 51 per cent share.  

“At QAIA, establishing new routes is at the forefront of our priorities, especially given their capacity to generate jobs and service contracts, thus positively impacting the national economy at large,” he said.

Binger expected the new airline to create “healthy” competition that will inevitably spur innovation and market growth within the Jordanian aviation industry.

However, he called on the concerned authorities to lower taxes on aviation, which is a major issue in the sector. 

“In order to grow tourism, we need to keep it affordable,” Binger said, adding that Jordan should not be excluded as a destination just because the airfare to other destinations in the region is slightly cheaper.

By Dana Al Emam

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