Dubai: The government of Dubai has granted permission to Kuwaiti budget carrier Jazeera Airways to make the city a hub for international flights.
The privately-owned airline will be the second carrier after Emirates to use Dubai International Airport as its base.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group, told reporters the move is in line with the government's open skies policy.
Jazeera chairman and chief executive officer Marwan Boodai announced the airline will initially fly to seven destinations from Dubai, offering travellers "year-round low fares."
Jazeera becomes the only low-fare airline operating out of Dubai International Airport.
Boodai said the airline will "add value" to the city's travel trade by attracting more passengers.
The company will consider a second stock exchange listing in Dubai after its shares are listed in Kuwait in the middle of this year, Boodai said. "We are not using Dubai just for our flight operations, we would like to become a part of Dubai's fin-ancial system," he told Gulf News.
Jazeera will mark the beginning of its Dubai operations with a flight to Bahrain tomorrow. It will have thrice-weekly direct flights between Dubai and Bahrain. Services to the remaining six routes will begin on March 27.
The airline will serve Kuwait, Mumbai, Kochi, New Delhi, Muscat and Salalah from Dubai. "Now we are serving 14 destinations and by summer this number will increase to 22," he said.
Jazeera operates a fleet of five Airbus A320s fitted with all-leather seats. It is scheduled to take delivery of 10 aircraft by the end of 2009. The airline is likely to turn its option on six A320s into a confirmed order.
"We learned during our 15 months of operations that we were not wrong to insist on having our own brand new fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft, while many airlines in the world prefer leasing to cut their cost further," Boodai said, adding that owning aircraft is one of the ways the airline is able to offer low fares.
Boodai said Jazeera is "aggressively looking for" additional hubs in the Middle East and North Africa in order to serve the expanding the regional aviation sector. "Dubai is just the beginning we will need more hubs as we expand."
Since starting operations in October 2005, Jazeera has flown 650,000 passengers. The airline is targeting 1.3 million passengers by the end of 2007.