Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet issued an announcement on Wednesday regarding it’s plan to launch a new airline based out of Ras Al-Khaimah International Airport (RAK) in the United Arab Emirates. Located roughly just over an hour away from Sharjah and Dubai, SpiceJet hopes this will be an overseas hub with connections onwards to Europe.
According to a SpiceJet press release, chairman and managing director Ajay Singh stated
“India’s second-largest airline would use this new hub to extend its range as far as Western Europe. SpiceJet flights between New Delhi and Ras al-Khaimah should begin in December.”
SpiceJet’s rapid expansion
Singh retook control of SpiceJet in 2015 and has since been on the path of expansion. According to the press release emailed to Simple Flying, the airline currently operates a fleet of 111 Boeing and Bombardier aircraft and flies to over 50 Indian destinations as well as several international routes, including Dubai.
The new plan for operations in Ras al-Khaimah includes the following:
- SpiceJet would begin flights to Ras al-Khaimah from select Indian airports
- Over the next few months, the airline will establish the hub there, either under the SpiceJet name or another that has yet to be determined. An application has been submitted for a license to set up this new airline.
- SpceiJet will maintain its flights to Dubai.
According to LiveMint, SpiceJet said it sees “tremendous potential” in Ras Al Khaimah. As such it will start basing aircraft in the emirate in December 2019. In fact, the carrier signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the RAK International Airport on Wednesday which would allow it to start direct flights between RAK and New Delhi from December. Furthermore, this service will operate five flights a week with aims to gradually increase the frequency.
Singh goes on to say that around four to five jets will be based at this hub in Ras Al Khaimah. These jets will be 737 MAXs upon re-certification by the United States FAA.
“We are looking to establish an airline locally based in Ras Al Khaimah. We are applying for certification shortly and the approval will take around three to six months. The new airline will help connect India with Eastern and Western European destination using RAK as hub,” Ajay Singh (via LiveMint).
The case for Ras Al-Khaima
LiveMint reports that the decision for Ras Al-Khaima is due in part to airports in India getting increasingly congested. In fact, this increased congestion combined with new aircraft being delivered to SpiceJet has forced it to look at alternatives in the region.
According to Khaleej Times, Singh says that “Ras Al Khaimah sees strong European tourist inflow so it merits direct connectivity between”. Currently, Air Arabia (a Sharjah-based budget carrier) flies from RAK International Airport to select destinations in Pakistan and Gulf countries.
Establishing a greater presence in the UAE, SpiceJet will be the sixth airline to operate from the country. In fact, other airlines include Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, flydubai and the newly-announced Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
“The opening of the international hub is one of many exciting ventures happening in Ras al-Khaimah, which has emerged as the leading UAE destination for those seeking a culturally-immersive experience with luxury amenities and rich history.”
Do you think that this new SpiceJet-affiliated airline will be successful in an already saturated market? Afterall Emirates and Etihad offer a solid full-service product. However, Air Arabia and flyDubai cover the budget travel market.
Let us know in the comments if you think SpiceJet has what it takes to compete with its Middle Eastern counterparts.