Jordan To Get A New Airline Based In Aqaba

Eyeing a rebound in the tourism and travel industry, Saudi and Jordanian investors are looking to seize the opportunity by starting a new airline. This private sector-owned carrier will be based in Aqaba and is aptly named Fly Aqaba. At this point, it is unknown when the airline will begin its operations.

White airbus
The airline will begin with two aircraft- type currently unknown. Photo: Aeroprints.com via Wikimedia Commons 

Fly Aqaba

The Jordan Times reported on October 17th that the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Fly Aqaba Company had signed a $20 million investment agreement to establish an airline called Fly Aqaba. This privately-owned carrier will be funded by Saudi-Jordanian investments and will be based out of Aqaba Airport, which is also known as King Hussein International Airport.

At this stage, we only have the vaguest of details on where and what this new startup will be flying. According to ASEZA President Nayef Bakhit, the company will operate flights to the Jordanian capital of Amman, as well as countries in Europe, the Arabian/Persian Gulf, and others in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the airline will only fly two aircraft in its first stage of operations. The type of aircraft that will be used remains undisclosed.

Bakhit noted that the airline’s goal is to facilitate tourist access to the “Golden Triangle” of Jordan. This triangle consists of the popular destinations of Aqaba, Petra, and Wadi Rum. The President of ASEZA emphasizes that the airline will be based out of King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba and facilitate connections to local, regional and international destinations (easyJet is already flying from Manchester to Aqaba). He hopes that its operations will be a boost to Aqaba and Jordan’s tourism industry with the provision of competitive airfares.

Aqaba
Aqaba is a coastal city in the south of Jordan known for its diving and watersports. Photo: Tourism Jordan

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Not a new idea

The airline is currently waiting for all of the necessary licenses required from the Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission. However, ‘Fly Aqaba’ is far from a new idea. Indeed, two separate sources note that this airline has been in the works for at least three years.

The website Airline History notes that the carrier had planned to launch sometime in 2019, while a report from November 2018 by ch-aviation states that ASEZA had hoped to acquire the Air Operators Certificate and Operators License of Royal Wings (a charter subsidiary of Royal Jordanian) for Fly Aqaba. The source also states that, at the time, this transaction was valued JOD785,000 dinar, or $1.1 million.

Jordan-Israel-Egypt Airports
Located at the southernmost point of Jordan, Aqaba Airport (AQJ) offers access to the Red Sea and is somewhat close to both Wadi Rum and Petra. Photo: GCMap.com

With pent-up travel demand experienced in other parts of the world already, it might be a good time to start an airline. Indeed, travelers are increasingly looking for more direct flights and avoiding connections. Additionally, with so many wet lease operators and/or used aircraft in the market, it may not be too difficult for the carrier to secure its initial fleet.

At the same time, its operations to Europe will already be met with stiff competition from the likes of easyJet and Wizz Air, who already serve Aqaba with connections to Budapest, Rome, Vienna, and Manchester.

What do you think of the Fly Aqaba? Where might it fly to? Let us know in the comments.

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