Also enjoying growth in the Middle East, Air Arabia has nonetheless been forced to alter its strategy due to the uprisings in the region, particularly in Egypt. The airline, based in Sharjah, the UAE, is shifting capacity growth away from its two bases in Morocco and Egypt as it waits for the market to return. “Our focus will be on Russia, the CIS and Africa,” Air Arabia’s CEO Adel Ali says.
The airline opened a base in Alexandria, Egypt, several years ago. The Egyptian operation comprises three aircraft, two of which are flying out of Alexandria and one out of the Red Sea resort towns of Sharm-el-Sheikh and Hurghada. Air Arabia Egypt was supposed to have grown to seven aircraft as part of the initial ramp-up and was planned to grow to about 20 units within five years.
Air Arabia had planned to set up a subsidiary in neighboring Jordan, but it shelved those efforts with the outbreak of the Arab Spring last year, and Ali says the decision will not be revisited soon.
Other markets have proven more lucrative than expected. Saudi Arabia has opened its air transport market significantly in the past several years, and Air Arabia now serves six destinations in the country with 70 weekly frequencies.