By just about every measure flydubai’s rapid rise in the Gulf aviation world has been as impressive as it has been fast.
Since the launch of the Dubai low-cost carrier five years ago it has grown to 74 destinations in 35 countries, with nine routes launched so far this year and at least another five on the cards in 2014. Its fleet comprises 36 aircraft, with another 100 on order, while passenger numbers have surged to 6.82 million in 2013 after growing 38 percent in a year.
With a turnover of AED3.7bn ($1bn) in 2013 it recorded its second successive year of profit at AED222.8m ($60.7m), having slid into the black a year earlier after only three years of operations.
It has also been based on a simple, yet effective, business model. Focusing on destinations within a five-hour flying radius of its Dubai hub, the younger sister to aviation powerhouse and fellow Dubai government airline Emirates has opened up 48 “under-served” routes, while sticking to Boeing’s 737 as its aircraft of choice.
Last year flydubai launched 17 new routes, taking flights to 1,100 a week, and underpinned its growth with the biggest, single-aisle Boeing aircraft order in the Middle East. It also upped the ante with the introduction of a business-class service.
For the man behind the success, flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith, it all appears to be just a taste of what is to come.
After announcing the doubling of its network in India with the launch of flights to Delhi, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram as well as adding destinations Almaty and Shymkent in Kazakhstan in May, he reveals a target of 100 routes and 100 aircraft by 2020 — the same year Dubai will host the World Expo. He expects another five destinations to be added this year.
“As far as we are concerned, we look at the geographical location we are in, the mass around us and there are so many opportunities,” he tells CEO Middle East. “The question is what and how much of the routes that you have you will add capacity to — those combinations will determine how many routes you will have, but I think 100 is definitely attainable.”
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