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
News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
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

    Service Charge Accountant

    30,000 to 35,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: We are currently recruiting on...

    Management Accountant

    28,000 to 32,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our client, a hospitality busi...

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?