Thursday, September 8, 2016

Atlas Global: Sharjah to Istanbul and Beyond, June 2016

Having repeatedly featured RAK Airways recently, the Timetablist stays with our theme of the less well-known of the United Arab Emirates' airports with Ras Al-Khaimah's neighboring emirate, Sharjah. Once a larger and more prominent waystation than Dubai, Sharjah today acts as a suburban bedroom community for its now-world-famous hub next door. With over a million and a half people, it is a significant urban center in its own right, and its airport, barely 20 kilometers from DXB, is served by about 20 airlines, regional flag carriers like Air India, Egyptair, Qatar Airways, Saudia and Pakistan International, to more distant and exotic carriers like Uzbekistan Airways and  SCAT of Kazakhstan.

Sharjah International may be most prominent due to its role as the home base of Air Arabia, the Easyjet of the Middle East, which dominates with flights to three score of destinations blanketing the UAE's near-catchment, from Sarajevo to Nairobi to Chittagong.

Also among the more low-cost carriers hanging at Sharjah is AtlasGlobal, a young Turkish airline whose new name (from the previous AtlasJet) makes it sound more like a cargo carrier than a passenger airline. With hubs at both of Istanbul's two airports and a fleet of red-striped A320s, AtlasGlobal seems to be following Air Arabia's model of generic no-frills regional connector. It will, it seems, splash out on advertising: here, along the humid corniche of Ras Al-Khaimah, these lightbox advertisements boast of AtlasGlobal's ultracheap roundtrips to Istanbul from Sharjah: at just AED892 (less than $250). Whether Atatürk or Sabiha Gokcen is not specified: AtlasGlobal services both from Sharjah, although it appears the Turkish dotted capital "I" was observed. Shame it couldn't get a better URL for its web address. 

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