Subscribe Free
in Features

Rotana drives ahead as a scheduled carrier

Posted 12 November 2012 · Add Comment

The UAE may be geographically small but, as Alan Dron reports, continuing surface travel challenges have led to a local carrier starting domestic air services.

 It’s not often that a business jet operator changes course and develops into an airline, but Rotana Jet of Abu Dhabi has recently made the jump.

However, although it started life in 2010 operating executive services with a Gulfstream 450, Rotana Jet had always planned to be a scheduled carrier, said commercial and planning director Rajendran Vellapalath.

Operating executive jet services was seen as a way to get into the aviation business.

From its base at Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen executive aviation airport, Rotana Jet began operating scheduled services in June 2012 to Sir Bani Yas and Delma islands off the coast of the emirate with two Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets.

This was followed in September with the announcement of domestic services from Abu Dhabi International Airport to Al Ain, Sharjah, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah. Fujairah and Al Ain began that month, with Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah due to follow later. Ruwais is also due to join the route network.

There is, said Vellapalath, an untapped market for internal flights between the UAE’s seven emirates. Although the distances between Abu Dhabi and some of these points are small in geographic terms (around 215km to RAK, for example), driving to Ras Al Khaimah or Fujairah can easily take more than three hours – considerably longer at rush hours.

All these new domestic services are double daily; having both morning and evening rotations was considered important when the services were conceived, said Vellapalath.

Waves of international flights arrive in Abu Dhabi in early morning and Rotana Jet’s morning service is synchronised with them. Similarly, the evening sectors are timed to allow passengers arriving from the outlying emirates to connect with departing late night long-haul services.

At the time of writing, the company was in discussions with the UAE regulatory authorities over creating a small transfer facility to domestic destinations at Abu Dhabi. It was also looking at the possibility of arriving passengers not having to clear immigration and customs formalities until they reached their final destination.

Rotana Jet believes that sufficient people will be willing to abandon cars for aircraft to make the services viable. It will take around 30 minutes to fly to Sharjah, 45 to RAK or Fujairah. A passenger arriving from Europe at, say, 8am, could be resting in his hotel at Fujairah by late morning, saving a couple of hours compared to driving. “For people who have spent six or seven hours on a flight, facing an extra two or three hours on the road to reach their final destination is not great,” said Vellapalath.

He also sees the flights appealing to domestic tourists who want a day-trip to the northern emirates.

Rotana Jet’s owner, Dr Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al-Nahyan, a former chairman of Etihad, touched on this at the official announcement of the new services in September, noting “the need to foster development in the tourism industry”.

A third source of passengers is likely to be Abu Dhabi-based UAE federal government staff, who live at the far end of the country.

Rotana Jet will face competition from RAK Airways, which in September announced not only RAK-Abu Dhabi scheduled services but the benefit of a codesharing agreement with UAE national carrier Etihad Airways. (See story page 84).

A similar codesharing arrangement is a development also being studied by Rotana Jet.

However, Vellapallath believed that Rotana Jet’s higher frequency would prove a bigger draw. He also argued that Rotana Jet would have much better economics on the route with its 50-seat ERJ-145s, against RAK’s larger Airbus A320 for its service.

However, the company is not abandoning the charter market. It was due to receive an Airbus A319 in 50-seat configuration (18 business, 32 economy) to help cater for enquiries that come not only from the UAE and GCC nations but also Africa.

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Spectrum Aeromed equips Redstar Aviation's new Bombardier Learjet 45XR

Spectrum Aeromed has announced this week that the company was selected to equip Turkey, based Redstar Aviation's new Bombardier Learjet 45XR with new air ambulance equipment.

EAG to introduce healthier Weqaya-approved meal options to its staff

Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) will introduce healthier Weqaya-approved meal options to its staff restaurants after signing an agreement with The Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD).

It's all go for Go Aviation Middle East

Go Aviation Middle East arrived in Dubai from the US in 2013 providing its full service aircraft appearance and aviation services to region.

Jet Aviation Dubai joins ACJ service centre network

Jet Aviation's maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in Dubai are to join the ACJ Service Centre network, adding to the choice of Airbus-approved facilities around the world for ACJ customers and operators.

Vega launcher successfully completes eighth mission

The Vega launcher has successfully completed its eighth mission correctly positioning into orbit the Turkish satellite GÖKTÜRK-1, at an altitude of approximately 700 kilometres.

Lufthansa Technik and DC Aviation Group perform first A-Check in Dubai

Based on a cooperation agreement from May 2016, Lufthansa Technik and DC Aviation Group have recently performed a first A-check for a narrowbody aircraft at Al Maktoum International Airport (Dubai World Central Airport) in

TAA SK 12MTHS16
See us at
World_Space_Congress_BT21JN23N16_Arabian_AerospaceAIME2017 BT 2579217Aviation Africa 2017 BT 23F17MRO2017_BT1089217