MENA airlines eye China for aviation growth

By on October 26, 2015


(Photo from MENA)
(Photo from MENA)

DUBAI—Executives of Dubai’s Flydubai, Afghan carrier Safi Airways and RwandAir of Rwanda said on Sunday they plan to launch flights to China in order to bank on aviation growth along the new Silk Road.

Speaking to media on the sidelines of the annual Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Aviation Festival, which started on Sunday, Hamad Obaidalla, CEO of state-owned Flydubai, said the western part of China would be the first area where the low-cost carrier would fly to.

“As you know the Chinese government has given the United Arab Emirates (UAE) certain rights, so whenever new aircraft become available for us we will go to Western China,” Obaidalla said.

For the first time in 2014, China became Dubai’s largest foreign trade partner, with exchange of USD47.70 billion.

Afghanistan’s first and largest privately-owned carrier Safi Airways is likewise looking at China as a market to expand operations.

“We do not fly from our home airport Kabul to China yet, but we are currently looking for a partner with whom we can enter into a code-share agreement in order to serve the Chinese market,” said Joshua Bustos, CCO of Safi Airways.

He added Safi Airways, founded in 2006, would love to add the three top airports, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to their network.

Guangzhou is likewise on the radar of RwandAir, the flag carrier of the Central African country, said its deputy CEO and chief operating officer Jean-Paul Nyirubutama.

He added that the current slump in commodity prices had no impact on growing passenger exchange between China and Africa.

Earlier this year, Air Arabia became the first budget carrier from Gulf Arab countries to introduce regular flights to China, flying from its home base Sharjah International Airport to Urumqi, the biggest city in western China.