QAIA-based budget airline Air Arabia Jordan began flying to a second destination in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, a move which shows just how much of a threat this newly-launched carrier poses to troubled Royal Jordanian and its vital network of regional short-haul routes.
From September 1, Air Arabia Jordan started flying twice a week to the largest city in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. “Damman is the entry point to a province of more than four million people and a center of industry in the Middle East,” Air Arabia Jordan said in a statement. “In a short space of time, Air Arabia Jordan is rapidly establishing its route network and bringing a new level of connectivity to people living in Jordan.”
Air Arabia Jordan, which was launched in May and is run by Sharjah-based Air Arabia, already flies direct from its QAIA hub to Jeddah, Erbil, Sharm El-Sheikh, and Kuwait City –all regional destinations that have long proved important to Royal Jordanian’s bottom line. Jeddah, for example, is the carrier’s most popular destination and is regularly used by the many thousands of Jordanian expatriates that work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
In May, Royal Jordanian raised its capital by JD200 million in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy. The airline, which reported losses of almost JD40 million in 2014, has struggled over recent years to deal with continuing regional unrest, fluctuating oil prices, and the lure of cheap flights offered by the region’s growing number of low-cost carriers.