An as yet unnamed Indian carrier is in the final process of discussions to launch direct flights to Fujairah International Airport, according to a senior official. The official also said that the Northern emirate of the UAE also had plans to launch its own passenger airline in the near future.
Esmaeil Mohamed Al Boloushi, General Manager of FIA stated that the agency had several rounds of talks with almost all the carriers from the Indian sub-continent, and was hopeful that one of them would operate from the Emirate. The name of the carrier was not revealed. Fujairah International Airport has, till now, been a largely cargo-based airport.
Indian carriers currently operating scheduled flights to the UAE include Air India, IndiGo, Spice Jet, Vistara and Air India Express.
Al Boloushi said that the FIA was earlier expecting the Indian carrier to commence operations before Ramadan or soon after Eid. However, he said, the airline was waiting for approval from the top management..
Amid these discussions, talks are also underway with major international carriers from other countries. Al Boloushi said that the agency was in talks with several airlines across the world, and so far has received a good response. He also mentioned that Fujairah may soon have additional carriers commencing operations in the Emirate.
Fujairah Airport expansion
Fujairah has commenced the expansion of its airport operations, with Abu Dhabi Airports leading the effort. Abu Dhabi Airports had awarded a contract in 2018 to Orascom Construction and Al Sahraa General Transport and Clearance for the planned expansion of FIA.
Al Boloushi stated that the secondary runway is almost 90 percent complete, and has a commissioning deadline of August 2022. He also said that once the handover of the new runway was complete, extension and renovation of the existing runway will be undertaken. He further added that the commissioning deadline for the renovation of the existing runway would be March 2023.
Integrated tourism drive in Fujairah
In a separate statement, Al Boloushi said that the Fujairah government is on an aggressive drive to diversify its economy, with special emphasis on the tourism sector.
He mentioned that the FIA had strong backing from the government, and had instructions to work in conjunction with the Fujairah Tourism Authority and other entities to attract tourists to the emirate.
He also went on to say that FIA used to focus on cargo related activities, before realizing that focusing on cargo alone would not help either the economy or the tourism sector. Hence, the FIA is now considering other options to boost the economy, like chartered flights and commercial passenger flights. He added that the move would benefit all stakeholders of Fujairah, like hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions in the emirate.
The Fujairah Statistics Centre estimates revealed that hotels and similar establishments in the emirate welcomed 834,152 guests in 2021 and flights through FIA totaled 12,758.
Amid the new plans, discussions are in progress for the emirate to have its own carrier. Boloushi said that most of the other emirates in the UAE have their own carriers, and Fujairah was hopeful of starting one soon. He declined to reveal further details, saying that the talks were confidential.
In January 2012, Eastern Express (formerly known as Al Hajjar Air), the Fujairah-based airline, announced plans to launch the first domestic service between Fujairah International Airport and Abu Dhabi.
However, the project was later shelved.