Roundup: UAE airliners expand at all fronts despite buoyant oil prices

March 7, 2012 9:04 am 

DUBAI, March 7 — Local carriers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are expanding their fleets and global networks, while ticket prices started to increase in the oil-rich Gulf state.

At the ongoing UAE Career Fair in Dubai, which kicked off Tuesday, Abdul Aziz Al Ali, executive vice president for human resources at Emirates Airline, announced that the carrier will hire 270 staff during the next months, "from pilots, cabin crew, to ground handling staff aircraft engineers."

Despite rising oil prices, which push up every airline's cost base, carriers in the UAE continue to show no let-up in upgrading their global reach.During the first two months this year, the oil prices soared 12 percent but eased in recent days to around 105 U. S. dollars per barrel.

Last week, Emirates Airline announced that "due to the current volatility of oil prices, Emirates is introducing a fuel surcharge, for all tickets issued on or after the March 1, 2012, to reflect the substantial recent increases in our fuel costs."

On March 1, Emirates Airline, known as the fastest growing carrier in the world, started its direct flights from Dubai to Seattle in the United States with a Boeing 777-300ER. On board was Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who, a day later, took the delivery of the 1000th 777 Boeing. Boeing's main production facilities are based in Seattle, which was Emirates' seventh new destination it added to its network within just three months, bringing the total number of its destinations up to 130.

Emirate's rival Etihad Airways, the UAE's second airliner, is likewise on an expansion trip. Etihad, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, launched on March 1 daily non-stop flights to Shanghai, China' s most populous business metropolis, as the airline's 70th global destination, with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Even the UAE's smaller carriers spread their wings these days. Budget airline FlyDubai, which operates in the Middle East and North Africa, expects the delivery of six new aircraft in 2012, based on the purchase of 50 Boeing 737-800 back in 2008. Its CEO told Gulf News that he eyes more plane orders in the next years, adding that FlyDubai has no intention to raise ticket fares.

FlyDubai's domestic competitor Air Arabia from Dubai's neighboring emirate of Sharjah also has six new planes on its 2012 agenda. Air Arabia, which took off in 2005 as the first Middle Eastern low-fare carrier, took the delivery of the first of these six new Airbus A320 planes on Monday. With 30 planes, Air Arabia currently flies to 70 destinations. Until 2016, the airliner under its CEO Adel Abdullah Ali plans to operate with 50 aircraft. (PNA/Xinhua) RSV/TV/Andy/mmg

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