Kuwaiti low-cost airline eyes first flights to Cairo in May

Reuters, Monday 11 Apr 2011

In a long-awaited move, Jazeera Airways wins approval from Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority, clearing way for operations to key destination

Kuwait's low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways is expected to start flights to Egypt's capital in May and post a profit this year, the firm's chairman said.

Jazeera Airways, which posted a net loss of 2.8 million dinars in 2010, swung to net profit of 2 million dinars in the fourth quarter.

"The firm aims at posting profit in each quarter of 2011," chairman Marwan Boodai told Reuters in an interview.

The carrier, which aims to fly 82 routes in the Middle East within the next five years, won approval this week from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority to start flights to Cairo, a long-awaited move.

"We were deprived for years from operating flights to Cairo airport, which is considered one of the most important regional destinations," Boodai said.

The carrier, which competes with United Arab Emirates-based Air Arabia and Dubai-based low cost carrier flydubai, is seeking approval from Saudi authorities to operate flights within the kingdom.

Last week, the Shura Council, an advisory council, called for a study on allowing Gulf airlines to fly domestic routes in the biggest Arab economy as its national carrier struggles to meet demand.

Currently, Saudi Airlines and low-cost carrier Nationall Air Services serve a domestic market of around 27 million people.

Boodai said that the carrier eyed a market share of up to 15 per cent in 2011, adding that in 2012 the picture would change with Jazeera expanding its fleet.

Jazeera said last week that it would receive four new Airbus A320s between 2012 and 2014. The firm has 11 A320s in operation.

Jazeera was back to normal operations in Egypt, Lebanon and Bahrain, despite political unrest, Boodai said.

The Arab world has been rocked by a wave of pro-democracy protests which toppled Egypt's and Tunisia's leaders and sparked demonstrations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia. 

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