Following an exceptional first quarter, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport has celebrated with the arrival of a new scheduled operation between the emirate and Prague, the Czech capital.
The operator is SmartWings, the Czech Republic’s most prominent low-cost carrier. The service will start with a weekly flight to a destination that is becoming increasing popular with UAE and regional residents.
With its historic centre and varied architecture, “The City of a Hundred Spires” is one of Europe’s most attractive tourist destinations.
Engr. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of RAK Airport and DCA, welcomed the airline to Ras Al Khaimah, saying, “this is a key connectivity for Ras Al Khaimah for various reasons. Firstly, it connects RAK to one of our tourism source markets in Eastern Europe. Secondly, UAE residents enjoy visiting Prague during spring and summer time, and now they will have the option of flying from hassle-free RAK Airport. And lastly, through the hub at Prague, travellers will be able to continue their journey on SmartWings’ and their sister company Travel Service’s strong European network”.
Mohammed Qazi, RAK Airport CEO, commented, “SmartWings are familiar with the airport as they have been operating charters to RAK for a while, but a scheduled operation is certainly a big boost for us. We are committed to airlines operating to RAK and shall be working closely with SmartWings and our colleagues at Tourism Development Authority to make this a year round feature. I am particularly pleased to have this service leaving from our doorstep as Prague is most definitely a two-way connectivity, and RAK Airport will be able to serve the local communities of the Northern Emirates.”
Qatar Airways and Air India Express both initiated scheduled operations last year, joining the services run by Air Arabia out of RAK International.
In addition to the new scheduled service, Qazi also revealed that for the first time charter flights are running throughout the summer, a clear indication that tourism growth from Europe is becoming a year round phenomenon.
According to Qazi 2017 is currently beating what was a record year for the airport in 2016, highlighted by double-digit growth in the first quarter, with scheduled movements increasing by 11% and non-scheduled rocketing by a hefty 30%.
Passenger numbers have also soared by 9% over 2016, with the biggest growth coming from transit passengers following investment in rest areas for passengers transiting through the airport.
On the cargo front volumes have grown by 15% year-on-year due to the addition of new freighter operators connecting Ras Al Khaimah to Africa and the Subcontinent.