The chairman of Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways said he would like to set up additional hubs around the Middle East for the low-cost carrier but the amount of red tape involved means the risks are too high.
“Having other locations is good but let’s not forget that the challenges and risks entangled in our part of the world in the Middle East is so high that you won’t risk your investors’ money to that,” Marwan Boodai, chairman of Jazeera Airways, told Arabian Business.
While UAE low cost carrier Air Arabia has its main hub in Sharjah, it has launched subsidiaries in Egypt and Morocco.
By comparison, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair has been able to set up around 50 bases around Europe, in addition to its main hub in Ireland, due to the easier regulatory environment in Europe.
“If you compare to Easyjet or Ryanair, you can easily open up in Europe and get yourself a base in Marseille or other parts of Europe,” Boodai said.
“In the Middle East, we still don’t have the regulatory framework that allows us to freely open up and obtain local AOCs (Air Operators Certificates) on subsidiaries. It becomes so complex, so as a board we have decided to shelter Jazeera Airways completely from any hubbing, or other operations, unless the regulation changes.”
Instead, the airline is focusing on boosting its capacity and this month announced plans to add 61 flights to its summer schedule. The extra flights will increase frequency of routes servicing Jeddah, Dubai, Amman, Luxor, Assiut (Egypt), Sohag (Egypt), Al Najaf (Iraq) and Mashhad (Iran).
Jazeera Airways is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange and last year carried 1.1m passengers.