JetLite plans Middle East flights this year

April 8th, 2008 - 5:20 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, April 8 (IANS) JetLite, the low-fare subsidiary of India’s private airline Jet Airways, is planning to launch operations to the Middle East by the middle of this year. “We are hopeful we would be able to launch flights between Dubai and India by the middle of this year, subject to government approval,” Shakir Kantawala, Jet Airways’ regional manager for sales and marketing, told the Emirates Business 24-7 newspaper.

“We have asked for permission from the government of India for launching JetLite into the Middle East. We are positively looking forward to it,” he said.

In January, Jet Airways became the first Indian private carrier to operate in the Gulf sector. It currently operates flights between India and Gulf destinations like Kuwait, Bahrain, Doha and Muscat.

From April 23, it is scheduled to launch daily flights between the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi and New Delhi and Mumbai.

Kantawala said JetLite was originally scheduled for a March 2008 launch in the Middle East and the plan was to tap all existing Jet Airways routes in the region. These include Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.

It would also in the future launch services to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, when Jet Airways begins its operations into more UAE cities.

“For Sharjah, however, we would look to tap the market with JetLite and not Jet Airways,” the report quoted Kantawal as saying.

“The budget carrier sector is something that was waiting to happen and open up for a long time. And now it has happened.”

The sector in the Middle East is set for a boom with new airlines in the pipeline and the existing ones reporting big profits.

UAE’s national carrier Emirates recently announced that it would start a budget carrier, which would be operational by next year, while newly launched Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Airways is set to fly to India soon.

Among the major budget carriers operating between India and the Middle East currently are Air Arabia, Jazeera Airways and India’s Air India Express.

There are around 5.5 million Indians in the Gulf. A large number of them work as contract labour in the booming construction industry in the region and they are expected to be the biggest beneficiaries of the budget carriers.

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