x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Airport plans to fly in its own supply of German tourists

Fujairah airport officials are close to signing a deal with charter airlines to bring tourists from Germany directly into the northern emirate.

Fujairah airport officials are close to signing a deal with charter airlines to bring tourists from Germany directly into the northern emirate. The services would provide a boost to the economy of Fujairah, which has many waterfront hotels that generally rely on visits from GCC residents or international tourists arriving from Dubai International Airport. "We're talking with two operators and planning to sign a contract in the next few weeks," a spokesman for Fujairah International Airport said.

The flights could start about the middle of October, the spokesman added. Currently, 90 per cent of the Fujairah airport's flights are devoted to cargo, mostly in export and re-export. The new services will be augmented by other efforts to improve transit links to Fujairah. A new federal motorway between the emirate and Dubai is promising to shave 45 minutes off travel times. Next year, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing is expected to complete a Dh1.5 billion (US$408 million), 77km, six-lane motorway that cuts directly through the Hajar Mountains, shortening the current winding 135km route.

That will put Fujairah on a more even footing with Ras al Khaimah as a northern emirate tourist destination, hotel officials say. Previously, Ras al Khaimah hotels benefitted from the emirate's easier access to Dubai. Patrick Antaki, the general manager of Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, said in April: "At the moment, people only come for public holidays because they see Fujairah as a big trip, but when they see it as a 45-minute trip, they will come up for shorter periods." Dr Khaled al Mazroui, the general manager of Fujairah International Airport, said the shorter journey was also expected to make the airport more competitive as a cargo centre, as it would be more cost-efficient to import goods to Fujairah and deliver them by road to Sharjah and Dubai.