Petra braced for tourist hordes as easyJet flies east

The new star rising in the East is orange: easyJet's latest route, going on sale later this morning, connects Gatwick with Amman in Jordan. The no-frills airline's maiden flight to Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital will take off on 27 March. The link opens up the ancient city of Petra, the desert landscapes of Wadi Rum and the Roman ruins of Jerash to the easyJet set.

Jordan's tourism industry, which has endured a difficult decade, will be jubilant at the prospect of around 12,000 new arrivals a year. David Symes, director of the Jordan Tourist Board in the UK, said: "It will expand the market. The majority of our visitors are independent travellers, which makes easyJet a good option – travellers can be more flexible with their itineraries."

The airline already flies from Luton to Tel Aviv, making it feasible to construct "open-jaw" trips to the Holy Land using no-frills flights, travelling overland via Jerusalem and the Dead Sea to Amman. The link with Jordan also opens up intriguing possibilities for more intrepid explorers. Amman is the main hub for flights to Iraq, with links to Baghdad, Mosul and Basra.

While independent travellers will welcome another low-cost gateway to the Middle East, the move constitutes an attack on the two incumbent airlines currently flying from Heathrow to Amman. One is Royal Jordanian, an alliance partner with British Airways; the other is BMI, part of the German airline, Lufthansa. A series of test bookings made yesterday by The Independent on the Heathrow-Amman route failed to find a return fare below £463. The average easyJet fare is expected to be around half as much; the absolute lowest fare on the new route is £106 return, of which £60 goes straight to the Chancellor as Air Passenger Duty.

Paul Simmons, the airline's UK regional manager, said "We can get there at a much lower price that at present. They can cut fares a little bit, but not enough to trouble us."

A spokesman for BMI said: "It's a long flight to Amman, so better to do it in comfort on a full-service, great-value airline like BMI. We love flying to Amman and our customers love flying us to Amman."

A new "open-skies" agreement between the EU and Jordan has just been signed, opening the prospect of other European low-cost carriers – notably Ryanair – muscling in on the market.

The Middle East has long been the preserve of "legacy carriers", charging much higher fares per mile than the average rates in Europe. Neighbouring countries have already expressed interest in joining the low-cost networks; last month, the Lebanese Tourism Minister, said he would do all he could to attract easyJet and Ryanair to Beirut.

Amman, a five-hour flight from Gatwick, is easyJet's latest "mid-haul" route from its main base. Last month the airline launched services to Luxor in the Upper Nile of Egypt. This morning, easyJet is also unveiling new routes from the Sussex airport to Italy, Spain, Turkey and Scotland, stepping up competition.

Easyjet's new frontiers

April 1996 Luton – Amsterdam

July 1998 Luton – Athens

November 2004 Stansted – Tallinn

June 2006 Luton – Istanbul

November 2007 Gatwick – Sofia

January 2008 Gatwick – Thessaloniki

April 2008 Gatwick - Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

November 2008 Gatwick - Helsinki

November 2009 Luton to Tel Aviv

December 2010 Gatwick – Amman

Suggested Topics
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015
    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall