x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Passengers and profits on the rise at RAK airport

Profits at RAK International Airport took off last year as both the number of passengers and amount of cargo grew by about a quarter.

The inaugural flight of RAK Airways from Ras Al Khaimah lands at Abu Dhabi International Airport in October. Courtesy Adac
The inaugural flight of RAK Airways from Ras Al Khaimah lands at Abu Dhabi International Airport in October. Courtesy Adac

Profits at RAK International Airport took off last year as both the number of passengers and amount of cargo grew by about a quarter.

Overall financial performance grew by 71 per cent, thanks to the 24 per cent rise in passenger growth and 25 per cent boost in cargo.

Sheikh Salem Sultan Al Qasimi, the chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation and vice chairman of RAK Airways attributed the rise to the vision of Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.

"We are opening more rooms to cater for such a big growth and it is a challenge for Ras Al Khaimah Airport with its current facilities.

"That's why we are upgrading the services, expanding the terminal," he said.

The terminal will almost double in size as part of the project, which is expected to take about 24 months.

RAK Airways flies to nine destinations, including Cairo, Jeddah, Lahore and Doha, while charters also operate flights to and from Russia. The airline is in talks with Middle Eastern and Indian subcontinent carriers to expand the list of airlines flying into RAK International.

"We are talking with several airlines to operate flights to Ras Al Khaimah and we are encouraging here at civil aviation to bring airlines, chartered or scheduled, because maybe some airports think it will affect the local carrier or national carrier," said Sheikh Saud. "But in our case no, because we are looking at the global picture, how we can enhance RAK Airways by attracting other airlines and sharing this effort together to upgrade and enhance the economy of Ras Al Khaimah."

RAK Tourism Development Authority is working with RAK Airways and the airport to market the destination overseas. Tourists mostly come from Asia, India, North Africa, the GCC and Europe, but the emirate is not limiting its promotional efforts to any particular areas.

"We want to expand our reach and attract tourists, business travellers and investors from all over the world," said Sheikh Salem.

He said tourists mainly visit Ras Al Khaimah in the winter, but added that plans were under way to make the emirate an attractive holiday spot during the hot summer months.

"RAK is offering also very soon, a nice resort up in the mountain in Jebel Jais where the [temperature] is 12 to 14 degrees [lower]. They are building the road now. It will be done, inshallah, very soon. They will be building resorts and houses," said Sheikh Salem.

"This is one of the visions of Sheikh Saud, to offer winter vacations in the middle of July."

 

gduncan@thenational.ae