RAK airport chases new carriers to start services

Several Russian and European carriers set to start routes later this year, says CEO

Ras Al Khamiah International Airport has signed up a number of European and Russian carrier to start flying to the emirate later this year, part of the airport’s push to increase its global reach.

“With a few airlines already committed to bringing in their tourists this year, the airport is expecting to significantly increase its passenger and airline numbers in 2013,” the airport said in a statement.

The increased number of airline attracted to the northern emirate comes as the airport embarks on a tour of a number of prominent aviation exhibitions around the world.

The latest carriers to sign up came as a result of its participation in the 8th Routes Europe event in Budapest, Hungary last month.

"Routes is an ideal platform for us to talk to several airlines around the world who seek new destinations. RAK has a lot to offer both business and tourist. With 25 percent year-on-year growth for the airport and as the emirate of Ras Al Khamiah finds itself on the map of several airlines around the world we are gearing ourselves for further growth in coming years,” said Andrew Gower, CEO of RAK International Airport.

The airport will also be exhibiting at the Routes Africa event in Uganda, Routes CIS in Ukraine and the World Routes Forum in Las Vegas, USA later this year. The airport also took part in Routes India in March.

"The Routes Forum is an ideal business platform for us to network, discuss and attract airlines to Ras Al Khaimah. We have already received several expressions of interest from European and Russian airlines to fly into RAK Airport this winter," said Gower.

Last year, Gower revealed the airport will invest AED2m ($544,500) upgrading its airport terminal as it looks to boost passenger traffic to 2m by 2015.

“The build we are doing now will take our capacity to two million [passengers] from half a million. In terms of terminal development [we’re going to invest] in the region of AED2m; that’s a combination of building, roads, car park layouts, everything,” he said.

Ras Al Khaimah, which unlike neighbouring Dubai and Abu Dhabi does not have abundant energy resources, is ramping up its investment in hotels as it moves to boost its economy.

The emirate is hoping that tourism will make up 20 percent of its economy by 2021 and generate in excess of $1bn a year.

In 2009, the government relaunched its flag carrier RAK Airways, offering cheap flights to countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt in a bid to tap the regional travel market.

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