Jazeera Airways to connect Delhi, Mumbai
New Delhi, July 3: Jazeera Airways, Kuwait's new airline and the first private carrier in the Middle East, today inaugurated direct flights to Delhi and Mumbai.
The eight-month-old, low-cost airline already flies to Dubai, Beirut, Amman, Baharain, Aleppo, Luxor, Damascus and Alexandria.
With three aircraft, it has 56 flights a week.
Jazeera will fly three times a week from Delhi to Kuwait city - on Monday, Tuesday and Friday - and on all days except Tuesday from Mumbai.
''India is a strategic market for Jazeera,'' said airline's chairman and CEO Marwan Boodai. ''It is identified as one of the world's fastest growing aviation markets, offering high potential for us to offer value-for-money travel to larger section of Indian travellers.'' Jazeera has placed orders for 10 brand new Airbus A320s with options for six more. By this year-end, it will have five of them.
''We should start flying to Europe in the next one-and-a-half year when the new aircraft are delivered to us,'' said Mr Boodai.
There are 500,000 Indians settled in the oil-rich kingdom.
Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah visited India from June 14 to 19 in an effort to step up bilateral relations.
Recently, India conceded to the Kuwait government's request to increase the weekly capacity of airlines operating between Kuwait and Indian cities by 1,300 seats. While Kuwait Airways will maintain its current schedule and capacity of 5,200 seats every week, Jazeera has got additional 1,300 seats per week.
Both countries are expected to finalise a satisfactory arrangement during the bilateral talks scheduled later this month.
The two sides will look into connectivity of Kuwait with more Indian cities, maybe Hyderabad and Kochi.
Over six million Indians travelled abroad last year. ''Middle East is the largest market for outbound Indians. Nearly 34 per cent of passengers travel to this area,'' said Mr Boodai.
India's travel and tourism industry is the third fastest growing globally and is currently worth 38.8 billion dollars. Nearly 10 per cent of people belong to the middle class but only two per cent travel by air.
Jazeera is a Kuwaiti public shareholding company with a capital of 10 million dinars raised through an initial public offering (IPO) that was oversubscribed 12 times.