Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Safi Airways aims to add up to 20 aircraft

The airline is mainly looking at Airbus A319, A320 and Boeing 737.

The Afghan carrier Safi Airways is looking to buy 10 to 20 narrow-body aircraft over the next couple of years as it looks to ramp up its expansion.

Joshua Bustos, the chief executive, said that he is mainly looking at Airbus A319, A320 and Boeing 737.

“I am happy with Boeing or Airbus, whichever vendor is going to work with Afghanistan to help secure its future,” he said in Dubai.

Mr Bustos is looking to grow Safi’s network with routes within 3 to 3.5 hours’ flying time from Kabul. This includes Kuwait, Beirut, Kazakhstan, Iran and major cities in India.

Currently, Safi flies to three domestic and four international destinations.

Safi, which is currently banned by the EU to fly to European cities, is working with authorities to get access into Europe.

“We hope to change the perception of what an Afghan airline is like,” said Mr Bustos, adding that once the ban is lifted, he would target cities with large numbers of Afghan expatriates.

“We will probably look at Frankfurt first, if we get approval,” he said.

The Kabul-based carrier is currently “shelving” long-haul plans with increased focus on reaching profitability.

“We are focused first on domestic, regional and then long haul. I would never consider long-haul unless there was a significant incentive to do so,” said Mr Bustos.

“We need to expand quickly into the region and make sure that we don’t become irrelevant.”

The airline is also looking to grow via codeshare with intentions to talk to Air China and Etihad.

Meanwhile, the Saudi budget carrier flynas is also in talks with Airbus and Boeing to buy additional aircraft. The chief executive Paul Byrne said he is looking to add four aircraft over the next four years at the rate of one a year.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

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Updated: October 26, 2015 04:00 AM