Jordan Table of Contents
Queen Alia International Airport at Al Jizah, South of Amman, showing Royal Jordanian Airlines airplanes
Royal Jordanian Airlines--known until 1987 as Alia--was the national carrier. Wholly owned by the government and operating since 1946, Royal Jordanian by 1988 had become one of the major Middle Eastern air carriers. From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, passenger and freight traffic and reported profits grew almost 25 percent annually (although fuel and other hidden subsidies made calculation of actual profitability impossible). Annual traffic growth tapered off to single-digit figures after 1983 and the airline experienced a US$30 million loss in 1984. A budget cut of almost 10 percent in 1986 resulted in staff and other overhead cuts that apparently made the carrier more efficient, and in that year it reported a profit of US$5.6 million. In 1986 Royal Jordanian carried more than 1 million passengers and 42,500 tons of cargo. Load factors averaged over 48 percent. Jordan also had established some of the most advanced flight crew training and maintenance and repair facilities in the Middle East, and it sold these services to African and other Arab airlines.
In the late 1980s, Royal Jordanian was in the midst of a major program of long-term expansion and financial restructuring. The program included the low-cost lease and purchase of new Airbus Industrie airliners. Royal Jordanian also was negotiating an agreement to sell and lease back some of its Boeing and Lockheed aircraft to cut corporate debt. After restructuring the balance sheet, the government planned to offer Royal Jordanian for sale to its 4,600 employees and to private sector investors, retaining only a 15 percent stake.
In 1988 the Royal Jordanian fleet consisted of two Boeing 747- 200s, eight Lockheed L-1011 Tristars, three Boeing 727-200As, and three Boeing 707-320Cs. In 1987 Royal Jordanian acquired the first two of six Airbus Industrie A-310-300s, which were to replace its Boeing 707s. Royal Jordanian also had an option to purchase six Airbus Industrie A-320s to replace its Boeing 727s over the decade from 1990 to 2000, and planned eventually to phase out use of its Lockheeds in favor of new Airbus Industrie A-340s.
In 1987 Royal Jordanian added Moscow and Calcutta to the more than forty worldwide destinations it already served. New scheduled flights were planned to East Asia, including Seoul, Tokyo, Manila, and Sydney, as well as to Rio de Janeiro via Abidjan.
Jordan had two other minor airlines: Arab Air Cargo and Arab Wings. Arab Air Cargo was owned in equal shares by Royal Jordanian and Iraqi Airways. Arab Wings, a passenger charter service, was owned by Royal Jordanian (88 percent) and the Sultanate of Oman (12 percent). The latter company also included a flying ambulance service. There were nineteen usable airfields in Jordan in 1988, of which fourteen had permanent surface runways. Of these, two near Amman were major airfields: the Queen Alia International Airport, opened in 1983 and located at Al Jizah, thirty kilometers south of Amman, and the old international airport at Marka, King Abdullah Airport, used primarily by the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
Data as of December 1989