UAE to launch first domestic airline next year


ABU DHABI, UAE – The UAE’s first domestic passenger airline is expected to launch operations in the first quarter of next year.

Eastern Express, the new airline which is based on the partnership between Al Hajjar Aviation and Abulhoul Aviation, will operate out of Fujairah to feed international airlines in Abu Dhabi.

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The flight will connect travellers in Fujairah with the capital’s airport in a little less than 40 minutes.

“This has been worked on for almost two and a half years now,” said Alex de Vos, Chief Executive Officer and President of Al Hajjar Aviation.

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Regional services

“It’s obviously a condition of market environment here and what we’ve seen is that the economic situation in the country and in the world is strengthening again, so it would make it a better time now than a year ago,” he added.

De Vos said that the airline plans to start off with two daily flights from Fujairah to Abu Dhabi with hopes that it could later go up to three daily flights depending on the market. In the long-run the plan for Eastern Express is to become a regional airline serving the GCC network, De Vos added.

“That’s the idea,” he said. “There’s a lack of regional services in the aircraft market, which leaves out passengers who want to leave on shorter routes,” he said, adding that they would provide different timings for business and leisure travellers.

Untested market

While Fujairah doesn’t have passenger service at its airport, De Vos said it is still considered to be “an untested market” which means it will take longer than one hopes for it to take off. “It will take sometime before we get to where we hope to be, but we have factored all the parameters into our model,” he said.

Eastern Express will take off with one plane — a turboprop aircraft that is designed for short, high-frequency routes. While tickets are expected to cost less than flying on a larger jet, Eastern Express is not a low-cost carrier and will provide full flight services.

When asked about a specific launch date, De Vos said that one hasn’t been pinned down yet.