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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Air Arabia adds second Moscow route as Russian tourist numbers rise

Dubai low cost carrier flydubai also added Moscow-Sheremetyevo to its network last year

Adel Al Ali, group chief executive, Air Arabia, centre, speaks at the launch of the airline's inaugural flight to Sheremetyevo. Courtesy: Air Arabia
Adel Al Ali, group chief executive, Air Arabia, centre, speaks at the launch of the airline's inaugural flight to Sheremetyevo. Courtesy: Air Arabia

Air Arabia, the largest low-cost carrier in the Middle East and North Africa, added a second route to the Russian capital with the launch of its inaugural flight to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

“This new route will complement our existing flights to Domodedovo,” said group chief executive Adel Al Ali.

The inaugural flight touched down at Sheremetyevo, a hub for Russian international airline Aeroflot on February 1. Headquartered in Sharjah, Air Arabia will fly four flights before the route is upgraded to a daily service from March 1.

Competing flydubai, which operates low-cost flights from Dubai, launched daily flights to Sheremetyevo, located north-west of the Russian capital in November. The Dubai airline, which has a strategic code-sharing partnership with Emirates, said it would offer passengers services aboard the airline’s latest Boeing 737 Max 8 for the route.

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UAE airlines have added routes and seats to Russia and capitals of former Soviet Union republics to keep up with incoming tourist traffic.

Beach resorts in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah are popular destinations with Russian tourists. The number of Russian visitors to Dubai rose 98 per cent year-on-year during the first three quarters of the 2017, according to the Arabian Travel Market trade show in Dubai data published last month.

The strengthening of the rouble, following the increase in oil prices to about $70 per barrel, is set to bode well for tourism, which began reviving last year on the back of a stronger oil market-led recovery in Russia.

Russian hotel guest arrivals increased by 41 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, according to Abu Dhabi TCA.

Russia is the second largest source market for tourists in Ras Al Khaimah with arrivals from the country up 84 per cent year on year in the first half of 2017.

Air Arabia currently flies to eight other Russian cities – Kazan, Rostov, Ufa, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Krasnodar, Grozny and Nalchik.

Flydubai flies to 11 points in the country, with the addition of Makhachkala, Mineralnye Vody and Voronezh to those routes.