UK-based start-up carrier Air Sylhet claims it has secured traffic rights to Jeddah as it prepares to launch services to Vienna and Dubai next month.

Operating twice-weekly from London Stansted and weekly from Manchester, Air Sylhet will begin serving Austria and the United Arab Emirates from 9 November using an Airbus A320 sourced from Latvian operator SmartLynx Airlines.

Configured in two classes, the A320 will carry 180 passengers, although it is as yet unclear what the precise layout will be.

Air Sylhet will serve Jeddah from Vienna. A spokeswoman says the Austrian capital was chosen ahead of the UK as traffic rights were easier to secure than from London. A second aircraft will be sourced within three months to serve the three destinations.

Saudi Arabian traffic rights were awarded to Air Sylhet following bilateral talks with the foreign ministry of Austria in Jeddah. The deal covers rights between Vienna, Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.

"We have now started the process of launching our first flights to this very important [Saudi] destination," says Air Sylhet vice-chairman Shab Uddin. "It is expected we will start operations with three flights per week early in the new year." The airline also plans to launch services to Bangladesh, although no details are currently available.

Air Sylhet - which takes its name from a region in Bangladesh - was founded in 2007 by a group of Bangladeshi businessmen headed by Kabir Khan. Investment has been primarily secured from the UK Bangladeshi community.

"We recognise we are bucking the trend by launching a new airline at a time when others have struggled," says Khan. "But the difference with our offering, compared with others, is that we provide a complete service at a rate which is value for money."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news