By Ian McMurtry
Air Arabia Finds JV Partner, Plans Air Jinnah Launch
Continuing to find new opportunities for growth, both Lakson Group and Air Arabia have decided that working together will provide an avenue for expansion. The airline and conglomerate will create a joint venture and launch a new airline in Pakistan, prioritizing the low-cost model. The airline will be called Air Jinnah.
The new Pakistani airline will be based out of Karachi, at the similarly named Jinnah International Airport. In Pakistan, the airline will stand alone as the only private low-cost carrier in the market. The competitors domestically for Air Jinnah will consist of flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines and private firm airblue.
No news of the routes or aircraft type have yet to be released, however, both parties say that the goal is to start the application process for the low-cost carrier’s Aircraft Operating Certificate. The goal is to initially start domestically but ramp up international operations as the airline gains footing. But in terms of new faces, they are not alone, as other companies including Q-Airlines and Jet Green Airlines also have plans to join the Pakistani airspace in the near future.
Delighted with the joint venture, Iqbal Ali Lakhani, Chairman of Lakson Group, said, “we are excited to partner with Air Arabia is 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.” He added: “This partnership also reflects our commitment to support the development of Pakistan’s air transport sector while providing the citizens and visitors of the country with a new option of value for money air travel. Air Arabia enjoys a track record of reliable and efficient operations, and we look forward to working closely towards launching and developing the new airline.”
Formed in 1954, Lakson Group has transformed itself into one of the largest conglomerate firms in Pakistan. The company operates branches in various fields, including technology, media, finance, and in various joint ventures with companies like Colgate-Palmolive and McDonald’s inside the country’s borders.
Adding to the occasion, Air Arabia Chairman Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed 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. We thank Lakson Group and the Government of Pakistan for their trust and we look forward to working hand in hand to develop the new airline, which will serve as a new value-for-money air travel option for the country.”
Created in 2003, Air Arabia has grown into one of the largest low-cost brands in the Middle East. The airline operates 43 aircraft to 127 destinations with further growth created by the addition of joint ventures like Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, Air Arabia Egypt and Air Arabia Maroc.
The airline-to-be says that the start of operations will be positive for the Pakistani economy, creating new jobs and opening up the low-cost market to over 220 million residents.