In brief


Air Arabia on acquisition spree
Air Arabia has set aside up to $400m to acquire another regional airline, according to a report cited by Gulf News.

EFG-Hermes said the budget carrier would seek an airline with a strategic location and high potential for growth. It could include a full-service airline which would be converted to a low cost model. The airline listed its shares on the Dubai stock market last month following a $700m initial public offering in March.

UAE top ten for aviation
The UAE, China and India had the fastest growing aviation markets in 2006, according to an annual report by Airports Council International, quoted by Gulf News. ACI said that if the trend continued, Asia Pacific would replace North America as the biggest passenger traffic region within ten years. Dubai had 27.9m passengers in 2006, up 16.7 per cent from 2005.

SITA gets $17m Saudi contract
The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has contracted SITA in a $16.8 million IT investment programme for five years.
The deal focuses on departure control systems, passenger check-in and baggage management.
The contract covers all four of  Saudi Arabia’s international airports; King Abdul-Aziz in Jeddah, King Khaled in Riyadh, King Fahd in Dammam, and Prince Mohamad in Medina.

Tunisair passenger traffic down
Tunisian flag carrier Tunisair’s second-quarter passenger traffic fell by seven per cent but turnover per passenger grew, helping maintain overall revenues close to last year’s level, the airline said. Revenue per passenger from scheduled and charter flights grew three per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively in the April-June period compared with a year earlier. Overall revenue edged down two per cent to 233.784 million dinars ($183.5 million) while financial costs climbed to 5.375 million dinars from 4.700 mill-ion. The passenger load factor inched up to 69.0 per cent from 68.6 per cent.

United to up Kuwait frequencies
United Airlines is strengthening its passenger and cargo service to and from the Middle East, by adding more flights between Kuwait City and Washington, DC, and by signing a codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways.
Customer response to United’s Kuwait service has been so strong that United is increasing the service to daily from its current three weekly flights. In October 2006, United became the first U.S. carrier to offer commercial service to Kuwait when it launched nonstop, capital-to-capital flights between Kuwait City and Washington, D.C.  The new flights are available for sale now and the additional service begins January 3.

Qantas to launch Dubai flights
Australia’s national carrier Qantas will start flights to Dubai within three years, once its Airbus A380s start arriving, according to Gulf News. The airline has confirmed orders for 20 of the super-jumbos, which it will put on its US routes, and later Dubai, CEO Geoff Dixon told the daily. Dubai’s Emirates airline currently operates seven daily flights to Australia.

NAS fleet to reach 142 aircraft by 2012
NATIONAL Air Services (NAS) has announced the allocation of SR15.5 billion ($4.1 billion) to strengthen the company’s fleet with the purchase of some 98 new aircraft over the next five years. Following the signing of a number of purchase agreements since the beginning of this year, NAS is expected to increase its fleet size to include142 over the next five years, thus, becoming one of the most significant companies operating in the commercial and private aviation sectors in the Middle East. NAS is the largest and fastest-growing independent provider of aviation services in the Middle East. It currently operates the largest and fastest growing fleet of private aircrafts in the Middle East which comprises of 44 aircrafts from the largest manufacturing companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Gulfstream, Dassault and Raytheon.

Nas air flies Gurayyat daily
NAS air said it would raise its reach to the northern border city of Gurayyat from capital city of Riyadh to a daily flight. The airline is the first budget carrier in Saudi Arabia. The extra flights to Gurayyat route, inaugurated last April, will meet the high demand on passenger traffic via the northern borders to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey at the beginning of the summer holiday season.

33pc growth for Abu Dhabi Duty Free
Abu Dhabi Duty Free (ADDF) said it recorded an H1 turnover increase of 33.26 per cent increase as compared to the same period last year. Underlining ADDF’s position as the region’s leading duty free operation by average spend, departing passengers increased their expenditure by 10.5 per cent with an impressive $51 per passenger recorded over the same period.
The airport retail categories key to ADDF’s impressive growth have been in electronics which saw a 51 per cent jump on 2006 figures, beauty and fragrance was up 44.3 per cent, gold up at 44 per cent, leather goods up 87.7 per cent, cigars 57.8 per cent and luxury goods by 34.3 per cent.

Etihad flies to Dublin
Etihad Airways has launched its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to Dublin. The new four flights-a-week service offers air travellers direct access to Dublin and Ireland which is now one of Europe’s top holiday and business destinations. The new flight also enables Etihad’s Irish passengers a one-stop connection to Sydney which is the fastest way to Australia from Ireland.

Sama begins flights to Adbah
Saudi no-frills airline Sama has begun a service from Dammam and Riyadh to Adbah. The mountainous region is a popular summer location for tourists. Abdah is Sama’s sixth Saudi destination.