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Ryanair "won't work" in MidEast Jazeera Airways boss

Chairman says Beirut government unlikely to entice Ryanair to region.
NEWS, Aviation

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The chairman of Kuwaiti low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways has dismissed plans by the Lebanese government to persuade Ryanair to operate routes to the region, claiming the Irish low-cost carrier’s model would not work in the Middle East.

Authorities in Lebanon last month told Arabian Business they were in talks with low cost carriers including easyJet and Ryanair about starting operations to the country in a bid to boost a tourism industry that has been rocked by political turmoil in the Arab world.

"Indeed we are talking to Monarch Airlines, easyJet [and] Ryanair - we're talking to all of them," Tourism Minister Fady Abboud said in an interview from Beirut, adding that he intended to table a proposal at a July 18 cabinet meeting to endorse the plans.

"I have a complete plan that I want to introduce low cost flights and chartered flights," he said.

However, Marwan Boodai, group chairman of Kuwait-based low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways dismissed the plans and said the Beirut government was unlikely to be able to entice the Dublin-based low-cost carrier to enter the Middle East market.

“It won’t work… They will only do it when they have huge capacities,” he said of the talks. “Governments should stick to financing,” he added.

UK-based easyJet's only destinations in the Arab world are Jordanian capital Amman and Marrakech in Morrocco. Irish carrier Ryanair flies to six locations in Morocco, while the closest east it flies is to Larnaca in Cyprus.

Ahead of the cabinet meeting, Abboud said there was “a 50-50 chance" the cabinet would support his proposal. "I'm going to make the cabinet responsible," he said, adding, "If you need tourists, we're going to have to fly them in. We cannot fly a tourist at €1000 during this season and expect a lot of tourism."

Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways reported revenue for the first half of 2012 rose 11.8 percent to KWD28.3m (US$100.34m). Operating profit over the same period was up 39.9 percent year-on-year to KWD6.4m, while net profit rose 21.6 percent to KWD3.8m.
 

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