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When Royal Jordanian Airlines ran a series of advertisements mocking Donald Trump, the US President, and making light of his laptop ban for Middle Eastern flights, many of the people sharing its messages on social media had never even heard of the airline – let alone flown with it.
Despite flying its country’s flag for more than half a century, Royal Jordanian still lacks the scale and brand recognition of its Gulf competitors. It has also become a financial burden on the government of Jordan, its 26% shareholder, posting net losses in four of the six years since the Arab Spring.
New chief executive Stefan Pichler admits that regional instability has held the airline back. Neighbouring Syria used to be a major source of connecting traffic before civil war closed its skies, while routes to Iraq, Libya and Yemen were also abandoned when violence flared in their borders. Surrounded by conflict, Jordan’s own tourism sector has nosedived as Westerners steer clear of what they perceive to be a dangerous neighbourhood...