In brief


Emirates lease more craft
EMIRATES has signed an agreement with GE Commercial Aviation Service (GECAS) to lease five more Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

They are scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2008.  The new aircraft will be configured in a three-class system with mini-suites in first class, lie-flat seats in business, spacious economy class seats, crew rest area and the very latest in inflight entertainment. Emirates currently has 23 Boeing 777-300ERs in its fleet and a firm order for 36 more, including the new lease order. By 2013, Emirates’ fleet will feature 59 of the Boeing 777 300ERs, 19 of these leased from GECAS.
The airline has recently been granted the rights to operate additional flights into Australia, after negotiations between the governments of Australia and the UAE. Emirates will gradually increase its frequency to the four cities it currently serves – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – and the new agreement will allow Emirates to grow its services from 49 flights a week to 84 flights a week between now and 2011.

New airlines to add Bahrain
MORE international airlines are to start operating to Bahrain International Airport soon. New airlines that will launch operations to Bahrain are Ethiopian Airlines, Tunis Air and Air India Express, according to Civil Aviation Affairs Under-Secretary Captain Abdulrahman Al Gaoud. He said the number of airlines operating through Bahrain is likely to increase to 47 by the end of the year, up from the present 36. The number includes charter flights and cargo carriers.

Jazeera connects Iran, Cyprus
LOW-COST carrier Jazeera Airways has begun direct flights to Tehran and Shiraz in Iran as of last month. Tehran becomes the carrier’s 20th destinations since its launch, and the airline will fly direct three times a week from Kuwait to the Iranian capital at fares starting KD11 ($38). It will fly direct twice a week from Kuwait to Shiraz, with fares starting at KD8.
The airline also launched flights from Kuwait to Larnaca last month. It recently submitted its application for listing to the Kuwait Stock Exchange.

Thai launches dedicated ME site
THAI Airways International has rolled out a new web site,, dedicated to travellers from the Middle East. It offers information in both English and Arabic, including flight schedules, booking forms, information on destinations served by Thai and more.
SriLankan Oman booking online
SriLankan Airlines has introduced Internet airline bookings to Oman. The initiative is aimed at simplifying booking procedures and will offer additional convenience to its customers. SriLankan Airlines’ manager Oman, Milinda Balasuriya (right) is confident that the new facility available through its website at will prove effective for travellers because of the time and cost savings benefits over traditional booking options. 

Airbus upbeat on Mideast traffic
A recent Airbus global market forecast says the Middle East is set to experience strong and sustained growth in passenger traffic. The report, which examines worldwide aviation trends through 2025, identifies the Gulf region as a newly emergent hub for international air travel. The Airbus report predicts that Middle East passenger traffic will grow at an annual rate of 7.1 per cent through 2015, compared to a global average of 5.3 per cent. From 2016-2025, Airbus predicts that Middle East passenger traffic will continue to grow at 5.2 per cent, compared to a global average of 4.4 per cent. Over a 20-year period, that is 2006-2025, it predicts a robust average growth of 6.2 per cent.

Kuwait Airways to invest $6bn
KUWAIT Airways Corporation will invest nearly $6 billion to modernise its ageing aircraft fleet, chairman Sheikh Talal Mubarak Al Sabah said.
The plan is to buy up to 30 aircraft by 2015 and later increase the fleet to 55, he said. Kuwait Airways held discussions with Airbus and Boeing on the planned overhaul but is yet to decide on the order, likely to be made in May, he said. Talal said in February KAC was considering Boeing's 777 and 767 aircraft, and Airbus's A350 and A340 planes. The airline recently announced that it has achieved the ISO 9001/2000.

Jordan to buy eight 787s
JORDAN’S state airline will finalise a deal soon to buy eight Boeing 787 planes in a fleet modernisation plan aiming to make it the top regional carrier in the Middle East, the airline’s CEO Samer al Majali said. The deal will be worth around $1 billion.
He said the airline was in final negotiations with Boeing to part purchase and lease at least eight new 787-8 DreamLiner planes for delivery at the start of 2010. This is part of a modernisation plan to expand its fleet to 35 aircraft from 24 by 2010.

Oman Aviation profit up
Oman Aviation Services, which operates Oman Air, posted a net profit of RO2.89 million ($7.51 million) for 2006, up 187 per cent from the previous year mainly on higher revenue from ground services. The board proposed a cash dividend of RO0.100, a company statement said. Oman Aviation's ground services handled 4.5 million passengers in 2006, up 33 per cent from 2005 and 67,700 tonnes of cargo, up 22 per cent, the statement said. Oman Air's passenger traffic rose by eight per cent to 1.2 million. Total revenue rose by 12.5 per cent to RO 85.92 million in 2006, the third year of profits for the company after several years of losses. Net expenditure was up nine per cent to RO74.02 million.