In Europe the low-cost airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair have revolutionized travel for millions of people, with even five-star travelers finding the schedules and smaller airports often convenient. Now Kuwait's Jazeera Airways has announced that Dubai is to become the hub airport for its low-cost network.
Jazeera will be the first budget airline to be based out of the Dubai International Airport and fly initially to seven destinations: Bahrain, Kuwait, Mumbai, Kochi, New Delhi, Muscat and Salalah.
The privately-owned airline will start flights to Bahrain this week and the other routes from March 27. It has a fleet of five Airbus A320s, all with luxurious leather seating and a premium class.
But Jazeera is not the Gulf's first budget carrier. Government-owned Air Arabia has been operating from Sharjah for just over three years, and has recently announced its intention to launch an initial public offering this year to fund expansion.
This is a bold move by Jazeera which only celebrated its first birthday last October and has carried 650,000 passengers to date. However, airline analysts can see an immediate appeal in Dubai as a hub airport, rather than say its home airport in Kuwait.
Passenger flow at the Dubai International Airport hit 29 million in 2006 and is growing by around 15 per cent, while Kuwait only has a much smaller flow of mainly domestic traffic. Jazeera clearly hopes to tap into this passenger base and offer a low-cost alternative to the existing regional carriers on certain routes.
It is also going to be interesting to see how the regional majors respond. Will Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways or Gulf Air launch rival low-cost carriers? Will they match prices on short-haul routes to compete or rely on superior service and long-haul connections?
Competition in any market is usually good for the consumer as both the service and prices improve. This correspondent can recall the poor service on state airlines in Europe and the horrendous prices before the arrival of the low-cost upstarts which now dominate the skies.
Internet booking meshes particularly well with the budget carriers which also eliminate the cost of ticketing and booking staff in the process. Consumers also get the benefit of the lowest price of fare by booking near to the departure time, with the possibility of some real last minute bargains to fill the seats.
European low-cost carriers have also opened up many smaller airports to passenger travel. Again this correspondent can testify to the convenience of flying from Bournemouth in England or into La Rochelle in France. These airports which were not previously served by any airline, let alone low-cost ones.
Indeed, it is to be hoped that the Arabian experience of budget carriers proves as valuable to the traveling public. Certainly those people living in Dubai who could not face the Sharjah traffic should now try flying with Jazeera Airways.