Ras Al Khaimah airport gets a makeover

Ras Al Khaimah International Airport may not be much to look at currently, but if the airport’s new CEO has his way, the airport will become a key cargo hub in supporting reconstruction of war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan as Ras Al Khaimah goes after its slice of the Gulf region’s aviation pie.

“Ras Al Khaimah airport has been sleeping for awhile,” says Roland Blaney, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Int’l Airport. “There have been various efforts to get airlines in there, but because of the historical strengths, the marketing appeal of Dubai, its really been difficult for the second tier airports like ours to grab their slice of the cake,”he says.

Blaney, only months into the job, clearly has a challenge on his hands. The ruling family of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) – one of six emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates – has voiced its wish for the emirate to put its stamp on the region’s booming aviation industry.

This includes working with the RAK Airways team to see whether it is worth establishing a national carrier again. “But we’re also tasked with getting carriers in because it’s far easier for a carrier to add us to their network than force a lot of funds into a national carrier to get started,” he said adding that the economic downturn has largely meant attracting any new carriers in the short term is unlikely.

The push to get a slice of the region’s aviation pie, is not just about the airline or airport, however. RAK’s development organization, two free trade zones and the RAK investment authority are allworking towards developing industry and logistics in the emirate.