AMMAN, Jordan (eTN) – UK’s low-cost carrier easyJet started a thrice-weekly service from London’s Gatwick Airport to the capital city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Amman, beginning today.
With the new service, Brit budget travelers, who have been hoping to pin Jordan on their list of visited countries, are now finally given the chance to do so. With the opening of the new route, easyJet is breaking ground by becoming Britain’s first low-cost carrier (LCC) flying to an Arab capital.
This new development also means more Brits can enjoy the many tourists attractions that the Hashemite Kingdom has to offer—visit The Treasury at Petra, experience Petra at night, an opportunity to camp at the Wadi Rum desert, go sailing in Aqaba, take a dip in the Dead Sea, visit the Roman ruins in Jerash, to name just a few.
easyJet will operate three weekly services to Amman from London Gatwick, departing on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:50pm, arriving at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport the same day at 8pm. Meanwhile, the return flight to Gatwick departs Amman at 8:45pm, arriving at Gatwick at 12.20am.
Jordan Tourism Board’s airport office supervisor, Nader Al-Shakhatreh, confirmed on on Saturday, March 26, 2011, that easyJet is indeed scheduled to land at the Queen Alia International Airport today. He said: “We are expecting some 34 plus people to come from the UK to be part of the first flight from London.”
Jordan Tourism Board has said that the new route is being launched with a very high profile familiarization and press trip to Jordan on the inaugural flight in both directions. The JTB said: “They are planning to bring around 40 people. This will be made up of travel, business journalists, senior easyJet management and CEO and potentially a number of UK tour operators. This is the first time easyJet has ever launched a route in this way and is seeking support and advice from the JTB.”
Being that the UK accounts for a big chunk of Jordan’s international visitors, the easyJet service could easily provide the necessary boost to offset the 25% drop caused by “regional unrest” that Jordan Tourism Board director Nayef Fayez has predicted earlier this year.
Reported figures claim that Jordan’s tourism industry generated an estimated US$1 billion in revenue in 2010. UK played an integral part in this achievement by becoming Jordan’s second biggest European market, followed by France.
The challenge then for Jordan’s tourism industry with the influx of budget tourists from the UK will then be accommodation, as Amman, in particular, is very much associated as a luxury tourist destination that offers high-end accommodation.
Meanwhile, Royal Jordanian, Jordan’s flag carrier which services the Heathrow to Amman route, welcomes the fact that easyJet is now offering a low-cost carrier option for London to Amman travelers and vice versa. “As far as I am concerned, it is great. It is another airline flying to Jordan,” Royal Jordanian CEO Hussein H. Dabbas.
According to the Royal Jordanian CEO, he isn’t worried about easyJet that much. He said: “My competition is more bmi [British Midland International], which flies daily from Heathrow to Amman. I have been flying to London for over 40 years. I am operating A330s with two classes of service, videos on demand in every seat. I provide amenities and food and so on.”
Mr. Dabbas also said: “This [easyJet] is a low-cost carrier coming in to Jordan, and we have no problem with that. On the contrary, it will create a new market segment. It’s the longest LCC route because we are talking about five and half hours [of flying] from London to Amman. So, people are going to buy food, buy water, pay for pillows, and so on. And I think this is very healthy to have competition.”
One-way fares for the Gatwick to Amman flights start at 64.99 to 363.99 euros, depending of course on the date of travel with weekdays being a lot more inexpensive than weekend travels.