United Arab Emirate's Air Arabia, the first low cost airline from the Middle East, on Sunday announced it will operate daily flights to Mumbai from next month, a move that will pose a stiff challenge to national carriers Air India and Indian Airlines.
Air Arabia said it has been granted rights to fly daily to Mumbai from the middle of next month, making it the latest destination in the airliner's expanding network now reaching 12 countries and 16 destinations within the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian Subcontinent.
Several Indian organisations have been urging the Union Civil Aviation ministry to allow low cost airlines in the Gulf region to operate flights to India as they feel the national carriers levy inordinately high airfare from the gulf bound passengers.
The keenly awaited flight schedules and fares for India will be announced later this month.
"We are delighted with this addition to our growing network," Air Arabia chairman, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, said.
"By connecting India to our existing routes, we can now offer Indian nationals the opportunity to travel at lower fares throughout the Gulf region and Gulf residents to travel to India at the best possible fares, allowing families to meet
more frequently and tourists to enjoy even more destinations," he added.
The arrival of Air Arabia may expedite the launch of Air India's own low cost version Air Express set to start operatons in April and may well trigger off a price war, airline sources said, adding low cost airlines were good news for Indian tourism.