RAK Airways sees huge potential in Kingdom’s aviation market

RAK Airways sees huge potential in Kingdom’s aviation market
Updated 24 May 2012

RAK Airways sees huge potential in Kingdom’s aviation market

RAK Airways sees huge potential in Kingdom’s aviation market

RAK Airways, a private joint stock company incorporated in the RAK Investment Authority Free Zone with an authorized capital of AED 1.5 billion, currently operates to Kozhikode, Jeddah, Dhaka, Chittagong, Cairo, Doha, Lahore, Peshawar and Katmandu. The fast-growing airline attracts a huge number of passengers through different promotions including free long-term parking at RAK Airport, free baggage allowance up to 30 kg, free hot meals, and free transportation between RAK Airport and other emirates.
Ras Al-Khaimah, which has a natural coastline, the majestic Hajar Mountain range and an abundance of wildlife, aims to quadruple tourist numbers by 2012, and plans to push the number of five-star hotel rooms up from 1,400 to 7,500 in addition to having at least 30 hotels, John Brayford, acting chief executive officer of RAK Airways, told K.T. Abdurabb of Arab News in Dubai in an exclusive interview. "Saudi Arabia being an extremely important market, we are working closely with the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and other concerned authorities seeking an increase of our frequencies into the Kingdom," Brayford added.


How do you view the Saudi market? Do you see potential to expand your network there in the future?
Saudi Arabia is an extremely important market for us with huge potential, not only as a destination but it offers huge prospects for both tourism and business travel into Ras Al-Khaimah. We would very much like to expand our services in the country as we see it offering an excellent fit to our network. We are working closely with GACA and other concerned Saudi authorities to gain further service frequencies and destinations into the country, and if we succeed we hope to strengthen our network with additional flights.

What about the other markets in the region and how do you propose to expand?
We are constrained with bilateral agreements in both Pakistan and India, which offer us huge potential in the future. We continue to work closely with the respective authorities to seek additional frequencies and destinations, and we remain positive and will be successful.

How important is the fleet expansion for RAK Airways?
We have a 5-year business plan endorsed by the board to expand our fleet up to 10 aircraft by 2015 with a network of around 25 routes. Presently, we are on target to achieve this, but we regularly review our network plan, especially with the very high price of fuel to ensure that the plan makes business sense.
What factors are influencing the development of RAK Airways?
We are operating in a very competitive environment amid large and established carriers. We have to be very conscious in developing our business to ensure control of our costs.

What is your strategy for 2012 and 2013?
For 2012, we are concentrating on improving the performance of our existing network, to grow our customer base and to introduce new products and initiatives to the network, for example the launch of RAK Premier. This will form the springboard for expansion in 2013 which, in light of the current high fuel price, will be conservative.

How was your performance in 2011?
2011 was our first full year of operations and we carried 250,000 passengers on our network. As a private company, I am not at liberty to divulge any further financial information.

What are the carrier's attractive features?
We offer a high quality product, delivered with excellent service standards at a competitive rate. We will offer a high standard of personal service to our RAK Premier customers. We will be working very closely with RAK Tourism to offer our customers a wide range of packages to Ras Al-Khaimah.

What are the trends or indications for the first quarter of 2012?
The rising price of aviation fuel was and continues to be a huge burden on air travel. The market remains quite strong however.

What kind of competition are you facing from the budget airlines?
The budget airlines are extremely competitive and the low fare offering has proven very successful with customers throughout the region. They are also very agile and are quick to respond to changing market conditions. However, our customer proposition is to offer better overall value for money with added benefits such as a meal for every customer on every flight while retaining a competitive price and offering a high standard of service for everyone.

What are the latest travel trends?
Most of our markets continue to grow and the economic projections for the UAE are very positive. The market is very competitive and passengers are always seeking the best deal. Aviation fuel price remains a big concern as it is such a significant part of our cost structure and it has been proven that these cost increases cannot be passed on to the customer, so we have to continue to find ways of improving our efficiency.