A new airline catering for Britain’s Muslim community will start flights from Stansted and Manchester to Dubai from December.
Air Sylhet is backed by a group of private investors who are all British-Bangladeshi businessmen from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh.
Flights from both airports to Dubai need to go through Vienna because the airline has based its operating company in the Austrian capital to secure traffic rights more easily.
The launch comes at a time of intense uncertainty in aviation, following the failure in the past year of 28 airlines, including Stansted-based MaxJet and Eos, Luton-based SilverJet, Zoom, XL Airways, LTE Airways and, most recently, Sterling Airlines, which collapsed this week.
“Many people think we are crazy,” said Kabir Khan, the new company’s marketing and communications director. “But we feel that the market we are serving is immune to these kinds of conditions.”
The airline will fly to destinations in high demand from the Muslim communities in Britain and central Europe, in particular for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages to Mecca.
It also hopes to sell seats to non-Muslims looking either for city breaks in Vienna or holidays to Dubai.
“Although there is a one-hour stopover at Vienna, passengers do not need to get off, so these are effectively direct services,” Mr Khan said.
The airline will use Airbus A320-200 aircraft, capable of carrying 180 passengers. Flights will initially be economy-class only, but the front 20 seats could be converted into business class if there is demand.
Return fares will start at £500 to Dubai, £450 to Jeddah and £200 to Vienna, excluding charges and taxes.
Flights will start on December 4 and will be on Mondays and Thursdays from Stansted to Vienna/Dubai, and on Fridays from Manchester.