flydubai reveals its expansionist intentions

Guest Writer

flydubai will add more frequencies and roll out one aircraft a month in 2011 while additional route announcements are on the cards before the end of the year.”We have nine 737s and will receive four more before year-end,” said CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith (pictured), speaking to the press at World Low-Cost Airlines Congress in London. “Ten will be delivered next year and we will reach 50 aircraft in 2016.”flydubai has 13 new routes announced for 2010 including Yekaterinburg and Samara in central and southeastern Russia, respectively.”In 2011, we’ll be adding more frequencies to our existing network and more destinations, but although we are doubling the number of aircraft, we are not going to double the number of routes,” said Al Ghaith.The low-cost carrier currently serves 22 destinations and Al Ghaith stressed the growth opportunities for the sector in the Middle East. “Today, just 7% of capacity in the region is low-cost, compared with 35% in Europe,” he said. “There is no reason why the Middle East can’t be the same, but there will have to be far more players, and the market must become more open.””We need flexibility to fly where we want, when we want, and as many times as we want. There is also an issue with [immigration] visas, which limits the ability to travel between some countries in the region.”Al Ghaith said that although flydubai competed with Emirates on some routes, there was no chance of cannibalisation. “Common routes are primarily to the GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council] points, but our customers have different needs,” he said.”We have the lowest fare and an unbundled product, whereas Emirates sells a full-service product aimed at a different segment of the market.”Al Ghaith added that Flydubai had created significant new traffic on many routes. “As an example, Dubai-Amman traffic has grown 40% over 12 months. This business was either not travelling before or going somewhere else. Our region depends a lot on accessibility - the more you build, the more they will come,” he explained.

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