SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said at a press conference in Ras Al Khaimah that the carrier is looking to make the emirate its stepping stone into Europe, and has been mulling an international hub as India’s airports become more congested.
Ras Al Khaimah is the northernmost emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The emirate would be SpiceJet’s first international hub as the carrier looks to boost its connectivity to the Gulf as well as to European destinations.
The airline said it sees “tremendous potential” in the emirate, and will start basing aircraft in the emirate in December 2019.
SpiceJet signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the RAK International Airport on Wednesday to start direct flights between RAK and New Delhi from December. It will operate five flights a week and aims to gradually increase the frequency.
Singh said they have applied for a licence for setting up a new airline which will operate from Ras Al Khaimah and is slated to take off next year.
“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,” Singh said.
SpiceJet will be the sixth airline to operate from the UAE after Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, flydubai and the recently-announced Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
He said that around four to five jets will be based in Ras Al Khaimah and those will be 737 MAX series after they have been certified by the US regulator.
Singh noted that airports in India are getting congested and with new aircraft coming for SpiceJet, the carrier is forced to look at alternatives in the region.
The SpiceJet chief also said the name and destinations for the new airline are still at the discussion stage. According to him, there is a strong potential to make Ras Al Khaimah a hub for connectivity with Africa, Middle East and Europe.
“Ras Al Khaimah sees strong European tourist inflow so it merits a direct connectivity between,” said Singh.