Mishal Kanoo, deputy chairman of The Kanoo Group. Mishal Kanoo, deputy chairman of The Kanoo Group.

Mishal Kanoo, deputy chairman of The Kanoo Group has labelled the idea of budget airlines in the region a  "myth".

A number of so called low-cost carriers have recently entered the market including Air Arabia, Jazeera Airways and Fly Dubai, claiming to offer cheap flights to destinations around the region.

But the head of Kanoo Travel said a true budget airline still did not exist in the region.

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“Let us address the ‘myth’ of budget airlines. There are no budget airlines,” he told ATN.

"Just because you sell five or six or even a dozen seats at a very low price – does that make you a budget airline?
They do exist they are not lying. But in a plane that carries 300 people – if ten of them or even, let’s be generous – 30 of them are the really low price ones, you’re talking 90 percent that are not. And unless I’ve got my mathematics wrong, that means the majority is not a budget airlines so by default it is not a budget airline."

Kanoo added that the region suffered from a lack of 'secondary' airports which would hinder the development of a true low cost carrier.
"Budget airlines survive on secondary airports. Where are my secondary airports in the region?"

He gave examples of discount airlines in the UK such as Ryan Air and Easy Jet, "I’m talking about flying out of Luton versus flying out of Heathrow, I’m also talking about a 20 pounds or 100 pound flight versus BA charging 200 pounds.
So there is a price differentiation and there is an airport differentiation, which is not the case here."

He added that budget airlines were unlikely to take off in the region while governments continued to build more "monstrous" airports. "It comes down to the issue here of whether the governments will open up the skies or allow a secondary airport to come into existence. Unfortunately the way I see it, and I’m sure the CEOs of these airlines will disagree with me but if I was to say - what are the criteria to fulfill a budget airline – and are they fulfilling it? We don't have that in airlines here."