x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Fujairah airline venture targets 30-minute Abu Dhabi service

A route where passengers spend more time in the airport than in the sky may sound like a "hard sell".

A route where passengers spend more time in the airport than in the sky may sound like a "hard sell".

But a new airline offering domestic routes within the UAE hopes the idea will take off.

Eastern Express, a joint venture between two local aviation companies, is set to launch flights between Fujairah and Abu Dhabi from early next year.

Flights will take less than 30 minutes - meaning passengers will spend more time checking in and passing security checks than in the air.

It takes about three hours to drive between the UAE capital and Fujairah.

But Eastern Express, a joint venture between Al Hajjar Air and Abu Al Houl, is pinning its hopes on strong demand from domestic flyers.

Gaurav Sinha, who runs Insignia, a travel branding agency in Dubai, said the launch of the domestic route was a sign of maturity in the UAE aviation industry.

"It's a positive sign to see these initiatives take place," he said. "Fujairah is not as connected to Abu Dhabi and Dubai as it could be."

But he questioned whether there would be adequate demand, given the short distance between the two cities.

"The amount of time it takes to get from Abu Dhabi International Airport to the city, it begs the question whether it would be quicker to drive," said Mr Sinha.

"I question whether there's enough demand, unless it's catering for the corporate segments. It comes down to the frequency and number of flights."

The new airline will reportedly be based in Fujairah, the most easterly of the emirates.

It will feed passengers to the international airlines that operate out of Abu Dhabi airport.

It would be one of the few passenger services to operate out of Fujairah International Airport, which mainly handles cargo flights.

bflanagan@thenational.ae