Petra Airlines eyes tie up with low-cost carrier in Europe

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Jordan’s Petra Airlines, which was this week granted approval to start operating scheduled passenger services from next March, is looking to tie up with a European low-cost carrier to operate flights from its base in Amman

Set up in 2005, the airline has been offering low-cost charter flights from the Jordanian capital Amman. It currently owns two Airbus A320 aircraft, with a third due to be added in early 2013.

“We have plans to operate five A320s by 2014 and have a schedule flight to most of the major cities in the MENA and GCC region, using Queen Alia International Airport-Amman as a hub,” Riad Khashman, CEO of Petra Airlines said in a statement.

Khashman added the carrier planned to increase its registered capital to US$70m in order to fund its expansion plans and has ambitions to partner with a major European low-cost carrier in a bid to boost its route network.

In a statement, the airline confirmed it was in talks “to contract one of the international aviation consultants to develop a comprehensive business plan and ultimately attracting a potential strategic partner in the LCC (low-cost carrier) sphere, mainly European low-cost carriers, to benefit from having a platform in the region. This would allow Petra Airlines to provide services to Europe, MENA and GCC under Jordan open sky policy.”

The carrier has previously operated charter flights to destinations including Armenia, Egypt, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

In September, it was revealed Airport International Group (AIG), a consortium of investors redeveloping Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport, was in talks with the budget carrier easyJet to expand its network to Amman.

“There are great opportunities for us to develop new routes from Europe to Amman, especially in the low-cost segment,” AIG’s CEO Kjeld Binger told Arabian Business.

EasyJet, Europe’s second-largest low-cost carrier, launched its three-times-a-week Gatwick-Amman service in March 2011. The London Luton Airport-based carrier has 19 bases in Europe and 16 in the UK, including Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

AIG is spending US$850m on expanding the Amman-based airport and improving existing facilities under a 25-year build-operate-transfer agreement, which will boost capacity from 3m to 9m passengers per year.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by February 2013, with the second phase expected to be complete at the end of 2014.

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