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Fujairah-based Abu Dhabi airline service launches
Eastern Express CEO Alex De Vos hopes the one-jet operation will cater to businessmen and government officials. Precious de Leon wonders how many companies would pay the 1,200AED return ticket.
November 15, 2011 3:03 by Precious de Leon
Would you pay 1,200AED for a return ticket on Fujairah-Abu Dhabi feeder carrier service? If the answer is yes, then your dreams are about to come true, because Eastern Express is offering just that.
Previously unofficially called Al Hajjar Air, Eastern Express is the brainchild of CEO Alex De Vos, who Kipp spoke to all the way back in early August about the soon-to-launch airline. Back then, we asked if there is room for another carrier in the UAE–and we are still asking that question.
And as the new UAE airline seems ready to take flight, this question becomes even more pertinent.
De Voss points out in an article in The National, a two-way Fujairah-Abu Dhabi-Fujairah cab fare would amount to about 800AED. So he’s confident that most people would be willing to pay an additional 400AED for a faster more comfortable way of travelling to the capital–eliminating more than an hour’s drive.
From our previous feature, the airline is positioned as a potential feeder carrier for a regional airline and as a service for government, business and leisure passengers who travel frequently to and from Abu Dhabi.
De Vos is also keen to note that, just “because the airline is of low-operating cost does not mean the airline will be a low-cost carrier.” So it’ll be premium then.
Starting with one aircraft with up to 37 seats, the airline is reportedly scheduled to fly twice daily.
De Vos has been diligently tweeting about the progress of Eastern Express even as far back as in September using the @flyaha account. Now, however, the official Twitter account for the carrier has been created, @EasternExpress, although it is yet to be activated at the time of press.
WILL IT FLY?
Beyond businessmen and government officials who can expense the 1,2000AED ticket, would mass passengers be willing to use this service? It’s a wait and see, of course. But we have to say, we’re not holding out breathe. Saving an hour’s drive may not be enough to justify the additional cost, plus we’ll need to consider the amount of time that will go toward waiting around the airport for the plane to load and take off, then land and offload.
(I smell a race coming on. Maybe when Eastern Express officially takes off, Kipp could arrange for a seat while the rest of the team grabs a cab to beat the plane to Abu Dhabi?)
For now, we hold judgment on this service. If it does cater for premium passengers, then the service and quality of flight will determine whether or not Eastern Express will secure a permanent space in the GCC’s airfield.
It must effectively create a premium short-haul service that will cater to those who prefer not to ride with the cattle class in existing (and successful) low-cost, short-haul carriers like Air Arabia and FlyDubai but would still like the efficiency of a small aircraft carrier.
And we’re not beyond thinking that in order to secure that place, the company may consider feeding to other nearby locations out of the UAE.
What are your thoughts? Do you think this service will fly? Are you booking a flight now?
(There seems to be different spellings for his last name but we’re going with the name he has put on this Twitter account @flyaha, which we assume stands for fly Al Hajjar Air)