While the global aviation sector has been one of the industries most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, one airport in the Middle East has proved that expanding airline services is still possible, even in the face of such a dramatic global downturn.
Since recommencing on November 26 last year, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport (RAK Airport) has successfully implemented a planned pre-pandemic expansion programme, signing agreements with new carriers, and extending the number of destinations with its existing airlines. Operations in the programme have either started their new schedules already or will be commencing them within the next few weeks.
Included as RAK Airport’s new partners in its post-pandemic lockdown expansion phase are Kazakhstan-based Scat Airlines, Czech operator Smartwings, Cairo-based carrier Fly Egypt, and two Russian carriers, Rossiya Airlines and Ural Airlines. Its rapid expansion phase since reopening, which has also included extending agreements with existing partners SpiceJet and Air Arabia, has meant that RAK Airport is currently the fastest-growing aviation hub in the UAE – something that its CEO, Sanjay Khanna, says has been made possible because of it offering the right combination of services centred on convenience, value and safety in the new normal.
“RAK Airport has proved that the downturn trend in aviation can be bucked if you are able to provide the right offerings for passengers along with the new safety elements that are a necessary feature of our world today. From a convenience perspective, our airport is easy to access from Ras Al Khaimah and the northern emirates – including Dubai and Sharjah – and because we have no slot restrictions, we have minimal delays and disruptions compared to other airports in the region. As far as infection safety is concerned, RAK Airport is playing a major role in boosting passenger confidence through our highly visible disinfection protocols, our increased use of non-touch procedures, and our strict maintenance of social distancing in areas of high passenger footfall and throughput,” said Khanna.
RAK Airport’s CEO is keen to highlight other elements that he says have contributed significantly to stimulating consumer demand, pointing to his airport’s state-of-the-art facilities that are offered in a relaxed environment that befits the ambience of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. He also draws attention to the recent upgrade to RAK Airport’s passenger terminal building, revitalised public transport infrastructure, and new cargo terminal. Khanna says that these enhancements help make flying from and into RAK Airport a stress-free and rewarding experience, even during the current critical period. He also says that the new partnerships signed will open the advantages of flying into RAK Airport, as well the experience of Ras Al Khaimah as a destination in its own right for even more segments of passenger.
“We are very excited about our new partnerships that are enabling more people from around the world to connect directly with Ras Al Khaimah, whether these are passengers from Russia and its neighbouring country, Kazakhstan, who are flying in from 23 destinations in the region with Scat Airlines, Rossiya Airlines and Ural Airlines, our European friends flying in from Prague with Smartwings, or indeed our North African Arab brothers and sisters visiting from Egypt with flyEgypt. We are looking forward to welcoming them all and allowing them to experience the wonders of Ras Al Khaimah,” he added.
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