RJ asks for gov’t support ‘to ensure fair competition’ with low-cost airlines

RJ Flickr
A Royal Jordanian A330-200. The national carrier requested support from the government after the latter earmarked JD36.1 million in funds to market three low-cost airlines. (Photo: Flickr)
AMMAN — The national carrier Royal Jordanian (RJ) requested support from the government after the latter earmarked JD36.1 million in funds to market three low-cost airlines — Ryanair, EasyJet, and Wizz Air — to attract tourists to the Kingdom.اضافة اعلان

RJ CEO Samer Majali told Jordan News that the carrier has asked for a reciprocal relationship with the government to ensure fair competition, since RJ provides the same service as the other low-cost airlines. “Passengers require aviation, and that’s what we offer.” RJ does not get any direct material support, he added.

He said that some airlines provide fewer services than others, which explains why they fly at cheaper rates, however “we all carry passengers”.

In 2020, RJ’s losses were estimated at JD161 million despite some revenue, which was far less than previous years’ revenue, and hardly enough to cover the airline’s fixed costs, particularly as a result of a global lull in airline travel due to COVID-19 pandemic, according to Majali.

An official source at the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) said that the board intends to provide support to RJ, as well as to other national airline companies.

The source told Jordan News that the board is in constant liaison and cooperation with national airlines, more so recently due to the pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Moreover, the source said that national airlines focus on tour operators that bring in tourists. Their recent attention has been on religious tourism for visitors from Nigeria and RJ was nominated as the national carrier for this type of tourism.

However, Yaser Abdo, a travel agent and expert in the aviation sector, told Jordan News that the tourism sector remains the biggest loser as a result of the economic repercussions of the pandemic at the global, regional, and national levels.

He said that most countries have worked hard to create solutions to revive the tourism sector through direct or indirect support as it constitutes a substantial share of a country’s GDP, urging more assistance to both the tourism and aviation sectors due to the important role they play in stimulating the economy.

From his side, Hani Suleiman, a travel expert and the former director of commercial services at a national airline, told Jordan News that national airlines should increase their marketing activities to catch up with low-cost airlines that have succeeded in attracting larger numbers of passengers despite the fact that “they don’t offer many of the standard services that bigger airlines provide, like food, beverage, and seating options.”

Suleiman called on national airlines to develop strategic plans to encourage government to support them, and to attract foreign tourists.

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