COMMENT: SpiceJet’s new UAE carrier threatens to disrupt Gulf aviation

Analyst thinks new Ras al-Khaimah airline will initially be unable to challenge established carriers like Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia and flydubai
SpiceJet, Ras Al Khaimah, Ras al khaimah international airport, LCC

Colin Foreman, deputy editor at data and analytics company GlobalData, offers his view on the news that SpiceJet will be launching a new carriers based at Ras al-Khaimah International Airport.  

The move to launch a Ras al-Khaimah-based airline, which is still pending regulatory approval, could disrupt the Gulf’s aviation sector by providing a low-cost alternative for traffic between India and Western Europe.

The New Delhi route connecting Ras al-Khaimah International Airport with Gandhi International Airport will start in December this year. Flights will initially operate five times a week, although this frequency is expected to increase in the future, and if the proposed airline widens its network, it will be a competitor to other airlines in the Gulf.

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The proposed SpiceJet hub in Ras al-Khaimah will extend SpiceJet’s reach westward by about two and a half hours of flying time, allowing modern aircraft with extended ranges to easily reach destinations in Western Europe.

This will give passengers travelling between India and Europe a low-cost alternative to existing routes. In addition to direct flights between Europe and India operated by Indian and European airlines, Gulf-based airlines have been a popular option connecting India and other global destinations including Europe.

The relationship is important for both parties, giving added impetus to Ras al-Khaimah’s aviation plans, which include a major overhaul of its airport. For SpiceJet, the partnership will give the Indian low-cost airline the ability to reach Eastern and Western Europe.

Ras al-Khaimah has insisted that its plans will complement other Gulf airports and airlines, and in its early stages its proposed airline will not have the network to trouble major traditional Gulf-based airlines such as Emirates and Etihad, as well as low-cost players like Air Arabia and FlyDubai. That may, however, change in the future as the yet-to-be-named SpiceJet/Ras al-Khaimah airline grows its network to connect more destinations in India and the Far East with cities in Western Europe.

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