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Sun 18 Sep 2011 11:13 AM

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Royal Jordanian eyes Africa expansion with new routes

State-backed carrier will launch four routes to Africa, beginning with Lagos in Nov

Royal Jordanian eyes Africa expansion with new routes
CEO Hussein Dabbas said the African continent is a potentially lucrative addition to Royal Jordanians routes

State-backed airline Royal Jordanian is set to expand its
African footprint with the launch of four routes to the continent, the loss-making
carrier said Saturday.

Royal Jordanian, which booked a JD39.2m ($55.3m) loss in the
first half of 2011, will begin operations to the Nigerian city of Lagos in
November. The route will be followed by flights “in the near future” to Accra
in Ghana, the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and Addis Ababa, the capital of
Ethiopia, the airline said in an emailed statement.

The carrier expects to capitalise on the large number of Muslim
pilgrims that will continue their journey on to the Saudi cities of Makkah and
Medina, CEO Hussein Dabbas said in the statement.

“We have no proper connection with Africa and we are seeing
that the African continent is up and coming, economically and the people have
started to have a lot of disposable income to travel,” Dabbas told Arabian
Business last year.

“We would like to expand into the continent to expand more
on the network and connect the African nations with Jordan and the Middle East.”

Royal Jordanian has existing routes to Khartoum in Sudan, Libya,
Tunisia and Egypt, but Lagos marks the airline’s first expansion into
Sub-Saharan Africa.

The state-backed carrier struggled with political unrest,
high oil and a decline in tourism across the Middle East during the first half
of the year.

In July, the airline said its fuel bill had reached JD135m
($190m) in the six months to June 30, compared to JD93m and JD63m in the same
period in 2010 and 2009 respectively.

The impact of the Arab Spring, which slowed tourism to a
trickle in traditional travel hotspots such as Egypt and Tunisia, led the
airline to scrap 677 round-trip flights.

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