|More than 30% of Air Arabia’s capacity is dedicated to serving 11 Indian destinations. Most recently, it launched Delhi services at the end of March.|
When Air Arabia launched in October 2003 from its base at Sharjah many observers were sceptical that the low-cost business model could work in the Middle East. However, after starting with just two A320s the airline has grown to 14 of the type and the network now consists of almost 40 routes. Last year, Air Arabia carried 2.7 million passengers (up 53% on 2006) at an average load factor of over 86%. Sharjah’s traffic figures grew over 40% to 4.3 million, indicating that Air Arabia has around 60% of the airport’s traffic and now offers around two-thirds of the airport’s capacity. Most impressively of all, profits rose once more after a successful IPO (Initial Public Offering) in March 2007.
India dominates network focus
Air Arabia’s route network of 20 countries contains some eclectic destinations for low-cost travellers, including Armenia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria. Over 30% of its capacity is dedicated to serving 11 Indian destinations, the latest of which Delhi started operating at the end of March. Frequencies on all routes range between twice-weekly and twice-daily.
|Weekly frequency||Destination (Country)|
|14||Alexandria (Egypt), Bahrain, Kochi (India), Kuwait|
|7||Ahmedabad (India), Amman (Jordan), Bangalore (India), Beirut (Lebanon), Calicut (India), Chennai (India), Chittagong (Bangladesh), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Damascus (Syria), Dammam (Saudi Arabia), Delhi (India), Doha (Qatar), Jaipur (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), Mumbai (India),|
|4||Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Karachi (Pakistan), Nagpur (India), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Sanaa (Yemen)|
|3||Coimbatore (India), Khartoum (Sudan), Latakia (Syria), Peshawar (Pakistan), Tehran (Iran)|
|2||Almaty (Kazakhstan), Assiut (Egypt), Astana (Kazakhstan), Istanbul (Turkey), Luxor (Egypt), Yerevan (Armenia)|
|Source: Air Arabia website timetable for 15 May 2008 to 31 May 2008|
During 2007 Air Arabia started six new destinations of which three were in India, two were in Pakistan and the other in Bangladesh. Dhaka in Bangladesh will start in June and become the airline’s second route to that country. Traffic in the first quarter of 2008 is up 31% to 757,000.
A few routes have been started and then abandoned, including Aqaba (Jordan), Kabul (Afghanistan), Moscow Vnukovo and Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt). The airline has placed an order for over 30 further A320s (with 15 further options), which are due for delivery from 2012. In the meantime the airline is acquiring aircraft from lessors, including a recent former Vueling aircraft.
‘South Park’ style cartoon characters used in promotion
As part of its early promotional activity the airline used ‘South Park’ style cartoon characters to promote different destinations. Whether the creators of the show ever found out about this is unclear but they no longer appear in the airline’s promotional material.