“Most successful year” say Chairman and CEO
Ras Al Khaimah – UAE: Ras Al Khaimah International Airport has enjoyed a highly successful 2016, according to its Chairman, Engr. H.E. Sheikh Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi. Sheikh Salem believes that this shall be the airport’s most positive year, with a host of landmarks passed and records broken during its course.
In terms of passenger numbers Ras Al Khaimah’s rocketing tourism industry has also contributed to figures that show 68% growth over 2015 on a like-for-like basis. That marker alone makes 2016 one of the most successful years for the airport in its recent history, but cargo tonnage climbed an even more impressive 98% and aircraft movements increased by a handsome 37%.
Sheikh Salem explained, “A lot of hard work has been put in over recent years and we have now started to reap some of the rewards. In February Qatar Airways inaugurated their flights from Doha to Ras Al Khaimah, connecting RAK to long haul routes in Europe, China and beyond. In April Air India Express gave us an Indian connection that goes some way to satisfying the still under-served Indian sector from RAK.”
“In May Sun MRO started their setup at RAK to establish a narrow body repair and maintenance centre,” His Excellency continued, “and in September we had the inauguration of Egypt Air Cargo flights, the first flag carrier freighter operating to RAK. The beginning of October saw an early start of winter tourism season with ten charters coming from various parts of Europe, CIS and Russia.” The latter was a result of joint efforts by RAK Airport and RAK Tourism Development Authority.
Mohammed Qazi, the airport’s CEO, also noted that in addition to these key moments Ras Al Khaimah’s national carrier, Air Arabia, increased to daily frequencies on most of the routes it operates from RAK. He attributed the high load factors at the airport to its easy accessibility from the Northern Emirates, which is a sizeable catchment area.
RAK Airport also opened the expansion of the Arrival Terminal, on time, during October. This enlargement included the latest state-of-the-art smart immigration gates that process each passenger in approximately 5 seconds. Qazi noted, “The key focus is on the timeliness of our operations, as we believe the quicker you can process the passengers the more satisfied both the passengers and airlines are. Besides, less ground time simply means more revenues for the airlines, and we are ranked top amongst the airports for on-time performance for airlines operating at RAK Airport.”
Mohammed Qazi is clearly pleased with the airport’s growth, but makes it clear that this is only the beginning of what’s to come in the next 5 years. Aviation is growing at a rate of +5% globally and regional trends are above global average. He expanded, saying, “We are continuing to invest in infrastructure in order to cater for the future. We hope that the global economy shows improvements next year as there have been a number of uncertainties during 2016.”
“Generally speaking, he continued, “one new job in aviation creates six new jobs in the wider economy. We have increased our manpower by 16% this year, so you can do the math on what we are contributing to the top line through our multiplier effect. It is paramount that RAK Airport continues on its path and contributes towards the GDP of the Emirate.”
Specifically for 2017, Qazi sees RAK Airport continuing to build on what has been established during 2016. “We are constantly enhancing our service offerings for our passengers and airlines alike,” he says, “we have technological innovations planned for the first quarter that will ease the check-in process and may even take it outside the airport itself. And we will be opening our new seasonal terminal in the early part of 2017 as well.”
RAK Airport participated at RAK Finance and Investment Forum this year from 13-14 December 2016, and shared its recent successes with potential investors, as part of a panel of experts supporting the many opportunities RAK Airport presents.
He concluded by acknowledging where the inspiration for the airport’s accomplishments comes from, “all this success is the direct result of the visionary leadership and tremendous and continuous support of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saud Al Qasimi, the Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah.”