RAWALPINDI: After approval from federal government, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority has granted a Regular Public Transport (RPT) licence to operate Fly Jinnah, a budget airline that will initially ply domestic routes.

The Lakson Group, one of Pakistan’s leading business conglomerates, and the Air Arabia Group, operator of the first and largest low-cost carrier of the Middle East and North Africa, announced their decision on Friday to form a joint venture to launch Fly Jinnah.

After Serene Air and Air Sial, Fly Jinnah will be the latest airline to enter the country’s growing aviation market and will operate both nationally and internationally.

The director general of Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, Khaqan Mirza, told Dawn that Fly Jinnah had been granted an RPT licence about two months ago and within two years they had to make all arrangements to operate an airline, including providing aircraft for the purpose.

Arrangements to be made within two years to run the carrier

He said a memorandum of understanding had been signed between the new airline (Fly Jinnah) and the Air Arabia group, after which they would complete the remaining process before operating flights.

Details about the launch date, fleet and destination network would be announced in due course of time, he added.

In a statement, Air Arabia announced that it was collaborating with one of Pakistan’s leading business conglomerates (the Lakson Group) to launch a low-cost airline called Fly Jinnah.

The airline would initially be based in Karachi and ply a host of domestic routes across Pakistan. Later on, it would expand its network by including various destinations abroad.

The statement issued by Air Arabia’s chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammad Al-Thani said: “We are delighted at Air Arabia group to partner with Lakson Group on this joint venture to launch Pakistan’s new low-cost carrier. We are confident that ‘Fly Jinnah’ will add value to the air transport sector of Pakistan and directly contribute to the local economy through job creation and the development of the travel and tourism sector.”

Chairman of the Lakson Group Iqbal Ali Lakhani said: “We are excited to partner with Air Arabia in launching Pakistan’s new low-cost carrier. ‘Fly Jinnah’ will serve Pakistan’s travel and tourism sector and will play a constructive role in contributing to the nation’s economic growth.”

Air Arabia enjoyed a track-record of reliable and efficient operations, Mr Lakhani added.

Meanwhile, chairman of Air Arabia Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammad Al-Thani met Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Friday. Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan and federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry were also present.

Mr Khan on the occasion said his government had been facilitating foreign investors, adding that it particularly welcomed investments in the aviation sector because it wanted to promote tourism in the country.

In a tweet, the prime minister said: “I welcome @airarabiagroup to Pakistan & wish them success in their partnership with local investors to establish a new Pakistani airline, Fly Jinnah. My government is committed to attracting investment in Pakistan’s burgeoning travel & tourism sector which offers immense opportunities.”

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2021

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