In Brief


Etihad seeks Saudi route
MANAMA: Etihad Airways is negotiating with Saudi authorities to offer a destination to the Kingdom, it was revealed.

Etihad Airways’ regional and international relations head Khalid Al Muharabi said the airline was planning to acquire eight 330, 340 and 380 Airbus planes. “We hope to have 16 destinations available to our customers by the end of the year,” he said in a recent media report.

QA flies daily to Paris
DOHA: Qatar Airways has upgraded services to France’s capital to a daily flight as part of its summer schedule. Adding the two extra weekly frequencies, on a Tuesday and Saturday, to its popular five times per week schedule, will give passengers a chance to fly away to the City of Lights at their convenience. The new services will boost connectivity for travellers going through Paris and Doha to the Middle East, the Indian sub continent or the Far East. The flights are scheduled to let passengers arrive either early in the morning or early in the evening.

Oasis Leasing profits up
ABU DHABI: Oasis International Leasing, the Abu Dhabi-based big ticket leasing company, has reported strong half year results for 2004. The company posted a net profit of $1.272 million, compared with $0.917 million in the first half of 2003. Oasis Leasing chairman Mohammed Saif Al Mazrouei said the restoration of airline passenger demand to pre-9/11 levels means signifies robust global growth. The number of aircraft available for sale or lease are reducing and lease rates and aircraft values are improving, he said. Orders for new aircraft are also strong and developments in the local aviation markets are particularly encouraging, such as Etihad’s order for Airbus equipment.

Oman Air ends Mombasa flights
MUSCAT: Oman Air, the Sultanate’s national carrier, will terminate its twice-weekly flights to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa from September 1. A statement from the company said that the decision was based on new visa restrictions imposed on Omani tourists by the East African country, which have led to a drastic decline in the number of Omani nationals travelling to Kenya on holidays and visits. The airline, a subsidiary of Oman Aviation Services, will double its flights to Zanzibar to four a week. Oman Air also flies to the Tanzanian capital Dar-Es-Salaam.

SriLankan to buy 3 Airbus jets
PARIS: SriLankan Airlines, which is majority-owned by the Sri Lankan government, said it plans to acquire five additional aircraft by the end of the year, including three Airbus jets. The airline said it would buy one Airbus A340 widebody jet and two Airbus A320 planes, as well as two Turbo Otter air taxis. Officials at the airline and at Airbus could not say whether the new planes would be bought directly from the Toulouse, France-based plane maker. SriLankan, which is 51-percent owned by the government and 43.4 per cent by Dubai’s Emirates airline, currently operates 17 aircraft, including 14 Airbus planes.

Swiss, Dubai Airport ink deal
DUBAI: Dubai Civil Aviation (DCA) has signed an agreement with Swiss International Air Lines (Swiss), Switzerland’s flag carrier, to allow Swiss passengers to use DCA’s First and Business Class lounges at Dubai International Airport. Swiss passengers can now make use of DCA’s luxurious lounges, whose services include rooms for resting, shower facilities, buffet selections, internet access, telephone and fax services, as well as satellite television and comfortable seating. Felix Rodel, area manager for Swiss International Air Lines, Middle East, Iran and Pakistan, said, the use of the lounges have enhanced service levels for passengers travelling from or through Dubai with a superior level of comfort and amenities. In addition to the lounges in Dubai, travellers can also avail of Swiss lounges on arrival at Unique Zurich Airport. Swiss offers travellers a Swiss First Lounge for first class passengers, Swiss Business Lounge for business and Swiss TravelClub Gold and Silver members, the VIP Lounge for high level private welcomes and the Allegra Lounge, which is available to all Swiss passengers, providing refreshment areas, showers and work stations.

Qatar Airways bags awards
DOHA: Independent aviation quality monitor Skytrax has ranked Qatar Airways’ cabin crew the best in the Middle East and rated its inflight entertainment eighth in the world. The crew were rated fifth in the world in an annual survey of some 130 worldwide airlines’ cabin staff. The entertainment award makes Qatar Airways one of only 10 airlines in the world to be recognised in this category, which includes Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific and British Airways.

Philippine airlines eye Bahrain
MANAMA: A Philippine carrier may begin Bahrain operations before the year-end. Aviation approvals are awaited from both Manila and Bahrain aviation authorities. Two Philippine carriers, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific, have been proposed by Philippine travel and tourism authorities to operate a flight to Bahrain to capitalise on over 180,000 unused seat entitlements under a Bahrain-Philippine air agreement. PAL is the Philippines’ national carrier while Cebu Pacific is privately owned.