RAK Airways: A timeline

As the UAE's newest airline gathers steam, a look at its story so far.
RAK is back in the air after a temporary suspension of operations.
RAK is back in the air after a temporary suspension of operations.

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As the UAE's newest airline begins to ramp up operations, a look back at the difficult history of RAK Airways.

FEBRUARY 2006: RAK Airways launched
RAK Airways was launched with a total capital of AED1.5 billion of which AEDh850 million was paid-up capital. Jack Romero was appointed as CEO and the airline planned to commence flights in the beginning of 2007 with a fleet of two aircraft, consisting of a 16-year old Boeing 737-300 (purchased for US$8 million) and a six-year old Boeing 757-200 (a $33 million plane leased from Spanish carrier Iberia).

FEBRUARY 2007: New chief executive officer appointed at RAK Airways
Jack Romero was replaced as RAK Airways CEO by Kishu Teckchandani, following a series of delays with the start of commercial operations,. “There are a couple of things that haven’t gone as expected and by common agreement with Jack Romero, it was decided he would leave the company,” said Khater Massaad, RAK Airways managing director.

JUNE 2007: RAK Airways receives UAE Airline Operators Certificate
RAK Airways received its long-awaited Airline Operators Certificate (AOC) However, only four months into the job, sources confirmed that Kishu Teckchandani was no longer CEO and chief operating officer, Captain Khalid Almeer, was now directing the company. “They wanted me to continue, but I have my own commitments in India,” said Teckchandani.

NOVEMBER 2007: RAK Airways team celebrates inaugural flight to Dhaka
RAK Airways celebrated its inaugural route to Dhaka on 29th November, with three weekly flights being operated using a Boeing 757. In addition, the carrier announced the launch of flights to Colombo, Beirut and Sofia. At the time, RAK Airways wanted to acquire between six to eight narrow-bodied aircraft over a two-year period, covering 20 destinations within the Middle East, South Asia, and East Africa.

DECEMBER 2007: RAK Airways starts third route to Beirut in Lebanon
Following the start of Dhaka and Colombo flights, Beirut was the third route to be commenced by RAK Airways, with the inaugural flight landing in the Lebanon capital on 13th December 2007. “Passenger response has already surpassed our expectations and the upcoming holiday season has further brightened the picture,” commented Captain Khalid Almeer, COO of RAK Airways.

FEBRUARY 2008: RAK Airways signs deal with Boeing for four 737-800 aircraft
RAK Airways signed a deal with Boeing to receive four new generation 737-800s, with purchase rights for two additional planes. The carrier was expected to receive the first two planes in 2011. The second pair was due be delivered the following year.

APRIL 2008: RAK Airways launches first service to India with Chittagong flights
Shortly after the launch of Beirut flights, the service was suspended due to political instability at the time. Chittagong was selected as the third RAK Airways route. In addition, the carrier selected the historical city of Kozhikode as its first destination in India.

MAY 2008: RAK Airways unveils first holiday promotion to Colombo
RAK Airways launched a new division to manage holiday packages for its international destinations. “We are acting swiftly to take advantage of the growing interest in Ras Al Khaimah from tourists and entrepreneurs all over the world,” said Sheikh Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, deputy chairman of RAK Airways.

NOVEMBER 2008: RAK Airways makes decision to reduce workforce numbers
With a slowdown in global aviation due to the recession, a series of cutbacks were made by RAK Airways, with 60 employees being made redundant in November 2008. As a result, the airline’s workforce was reduced to 70 people.

DECEMBER 2008: RAK Airways follows cutbacks with service suspension
RAK Airways received another setback with the suspension of all scheduled services in December 2008, after its fleet was reduced to one aircraft. The airline carried around 125,000 during the year. Services were expected to resume around April 2009, while charter flights were still operated on wet lease basis.

FEBRUARY 2009: RAK Airways delays return due to deteriorating situation
RAK Airways chairman Sheikh Omar bin Saqr Al Qasimi confirmed that plans to resume operations in April could suffer a setback due to the deteriorating global financial situation. “In such a scenario, our plan to restart operations could definitely get delayed,” he said. “We are studying the options to re-operate some of our earlier routes. “

MAY 2009: RAK Airways hires new CEO
Kristian Kirchheiner was appointed as chief executive officer of RAK Airways on 18th May 2009 and quickly slammed allegations that charter flights were being dropped by the carrier. “We are working on a plan for the future, which I can’t really disclose at this point in time, so the company is in no way closing,” he said. “This situation is difficult but we will come up with a proposal and a plan within a month’s time.”

JUNE 2010: RAK Airways confirms its return with latest chief executive
RAK Airways announced plans to re-launch services before the end of 2010, following a hiatus of more than 12 months. “We are now ready to make a strategic re-entry into the market,” said Sheikh Omar Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, chairman of RAK Airways. “Omar Jahameh, our recently appointed CEO and his team are finalising the details of our flights.” 

OCTOBER 2010: RAK Airways is re-launched with a couple of flights
A water cannon salute marketed the departure of RAK Airways’ first flight to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on 10th October 2010, while a second flight to Calicut in India departed a few hours later. “We received over 400 bookings within four hours of unveiling our website,” said Omar Jahameh, CEO of the carrier.

NOVEMBER 2010: RAK Airways grows network with additional flights
RAK Airways expanded its route network with flights to Dhaka, Chittagong and Cairo. RAK Airways CEO Omar Jahameh said, “With our new routes RAK Airways is delivering on its mandate to provide travellers with a value offering to a range of exciting destinations.”

DECEMBER 2010: VIP ceremony marks arrival of RAK Airways flight to Cairo
The second of RAK Airways three weekly flight to Cairo landed on 11th December to a VIP welcome by Egyptian dignitaries and officials. “The launch of RAK Airways Cairo flights is in keeping with our commitment to expand our route network and further enhance our high-value offering,” said Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, vice chairman, RAK Airways. “I would like to extend my appreciation to the Egyptian authorities and Cairo International Airport officials for welcoming the launch of our Cairo route.”

MORE ON RAK AIRWAYS: Exclusive Interview: Omar Jahameh, RAK Airways CEO