Publicly owned Air Arabia, the region’s largest low-cost carrier, operates 16 Airbus A320s, has ordered another 44 and plans to open a third operating hub in Alexandria, Egypt, in early 2010, perhaps at the beginning of the northern summer season in late March. The new hub completes Air Arabia’s coverage of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, making it a truly pan-Arab airline, according to chief executive Adel Ali, who believes each hub could support 25 aircraft with other planned hubs requiring a further 100 aircraft over the next five years.
As with its original base at Sharjah and its second hub at Casablanca, Morocco, opened in April this year, the low-cost carrier intends to start service at Alexandria with two aircraft before adding more as routes expand to points in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. It will trade as Air Arabia Egypt under a $50 million joint venture with Egyptian tourism company Travco. Increased Turkish services from Sharjah are being considered, but Nepalese venture FlyYeti was suspended in mid-2008 after six months of operations because of political instability and operational considerations.