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Tue 4 May 2010 07:52 PM

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'Low cost carriers will double MidEast share' - FlyDubai

Region has seen positive growth and future industry numbers are very encouraging.

'Low cost carriers will double MidEast share' - FlyDubai
UNDERSERVED MARKET: MidEast carriers are likely to double their market share in air travel due to the market being underserved. (Getty Images)

Middle East discount carriers are likely to double their share of the air travel business to about 15 percent in the next three years as the market is “underserved,” FlyDubai chief executive officer Ghaith Al Ghaith said.

Discount carriers including FlyDubai have a 7 percent share of the Middle East air travel market and “there is definitely room to improve and grow,” Al Ghaith said in an interview at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai today.

He added: “We believe the market is underserved.”

FlyDubai, which began operations in June, Sharjah based Air Arabia and Kuwait based Jazeera Airways are boosting the share of low cost carriers in Middle East air travel.

Discount carriers had 30 percent of the air travel market in the US and 39 percent in Europe this month, according to figures from the Geneva based International Air Transport Association.

Al Ghaith said: “This region has seen positive growth and you look at the future and the industry numbers that are coming through it is extremely encouraging."

International air traffic in the Middle East grew 25 percent in first three months of this year from a year earlier, according to IATA figures. The next fastest growing region was Asia Pacific, where air traffic increased 10.5 percent.

FlyDubai, owned by the Dubai government, now flies to 13 cities with its 7 planes. The carrier has already announced plans to fly to five new destinations in the next two months and will add another six planes by the end of the year, Al Ghaith said.

Al Ghaith said: “We like to make money from day one, but realistically speaking, the second, third year is the expected time for you to make a profit."

FlyDubai has flown more than 500,000 passengers in its first year, he said.

FlyDubai’s new planes will be funded through sale and lease back deals and the company is facing no problems raising funds, Al Ghaith said.

The carrier announced an order for 54 Boeing Co. 737-800 short haul planes in July 2008 at the Farnborough Air Show, worth $3.78 billion at list prices.

Dubai’s government also owns Emirates, the biggest Arab airline.

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