India’s SpiceJet signed on Wednesday an agreement with Ras Al Khaimah Airport to set up a hub in the emirate, and later launch an airline from there.
This would mark SpiceJet’s first international hub, as the carrier looks to boost its connectivity to the Gulf and connect India to European destination. SpiceJet said it sees “tremendous potential” in Ras Al Khaimah, and will start basing aircraft in the emirate in December 2019.
Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director of SpiceJet, said at a press conference in Ras Al Khaimah that the carrier is looking to make the emirate its stepping stone into Europe, and has been eyeing an international hub as India’s airports become more congested.
It will be the sixth airline to operate from the UAE after Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, flydubai and the recently-announced Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
When SpiceJet starts flying out of Ras Al Khaimah later this year, the airline, which is the second largest in India, will be operating medium haul flights of 6-7 hours on Boeing 737 Next Generation jets. It plans to later deploy Boeing 737 Max jets once they are allowed to operate again.
Boeing 737 Max aircraft have been grounded across the world after two fatal crashes involving the model, but Singh said that SpiceJet is still confident in Boeing and expects to be able to fly 737 Max’s in late 2019 or early 2020.