Passenger carrier SpiceJet will commence flight operations to Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) in UAE from December-end, however, its wait to establish an airline there might happen only in 2020.
The airline's Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh told IANS: "We have applied to establish an airline there (Ras Al Khaimah). Everything depends on regulatory approvals."
"Flights from India to Ras Al Khaimah will commence soon. We expect the first flight to start from the end of this year. There is a huge market potential there."
Flights to Ras Al Khaimah assumes significance due to the heavy labour traffic from India to the Emirate and beyond.
At present, bilateral air service agreement between Ras Al Khaimah and India, allows for four flights per week. Out of these, two are already operated by Air India Express.
On the size of the new airline, Singh said that initailly the SpiceJet will lease out 4 to 5 aircraft to the newly formed passenger carrier.
The RAK-based airline plans to launch flights to Eastern Europe, other cities in Middle East and Africa from Ras Al Khaimah, however, its plans depend heavily on the timely return of the 737Max aircarft.
Lately, SpiceJet has implemented an aggressive international expansion plan. Nonethesless, the foray was halted due to the grounding of the 737Maxs.
Now with the expected return of the aircraft into service from early next year, the airline seems to be shoring-up its plans.
So sure is SpiceJet on the return of the Max by early 2020 that the company will cap its total passenger fleet to 119 aircraft till early 2020.
It expects to get 25 or more aircraft at its disposal just after the plane gets re-certified for operations.
The airline has a firm order of more than 150 Max aircarft.
Besides organic expansion, the airline this week entered into a codeshare and interline agreement with Dubai-based Emirates airline, pending government approvals.
This is the first-ever codeshare agreement signed by SpiceJet.
In aviation parlance, a codeshare allows two airlines to sell seats on each others' flights to provide passengers with a wider choice of destinations.
On November 20, the airline had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bahrain-based Gulf Air "to explore greater cooperation", including an interline and codeshare agreement.
Currently, SpiceJet operates 630 average daily flights to 64 stations, including 54 domestic and 10 international destinations.
The airline has a fleet of 82 Boeing 737, 32 Bombardier Q-400s and four B737 freighters.