By Ghaith Al Ghaith
Predictions For 2020: As flydubai and Emirates enter their third year of strategic partnership, Dubai's two airlines look set to continue to grow in 2020 and to help strengthen the city's position as a leading global aviation hub
As 2020 begins, we have the opportunity to reflect on what has been a milestone year for flydubai in 2019, when we celebrated our ten-year anniversary, which saw us mark the many achievements of the airline.
Over the last decade, we have carried more than 75 million passengers, launched many new destinations from our home in Dubai and brought people together to share experiences and create opportunities. We have achieved this by remaining agile when market conditions were challenging, investing in products and technologies to enhance customer experience and listening to feedback from our passengers.
Many of the destinations that were launched in 2019 were not previously served from Dubai and these include Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Naples in Italy, Sochi in Russia and Krabi in Thailand. This confirms our commitment to opening up underserved destinations which stimulates new flows of trade and tourism to and from Dubai. Kozhikode in India and Yangon in Myanmar also joined our network, which now includes over 90 destinations.
At the beginning of the year positive sentiment was strong with the maturing of established routes, the additional capacity created by the delivery of new aircraft and the increased demand across our network.
The grounding of our 14 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in March has significantly impacted our performance and has led to a 30 percent reduction of our flying schedule. Our priority at this time is to minimise disruption to our passengers’ travel schedules. As we look into 2020, certification of the MAX aircraft in the UAE remains a matter for our regulator, the GCAA, with whom we will work hand in hand to return the aircraft to service once it is certified.
Over the last ten months, whilst our MAX aircraft have been grounded, over 18 hours per aircraft each week have been spent by our engineering team to maintain the aircraft to the highest industry standards.
"We will remain focused on identifying new markets"
This maintenance programme will continue for as long as the aircraft remain grounded and it means that we are ready to comply with any requirements by our regulator in preparation for certification after which these aircraft will be able to rejoin our fleet.
In the meantime, in order to minimise further disruption to our passengers’ travel schedules, we have leased four Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Smartwings, an airline based in the Czech Republic. This will provide more capacity into the coming year.
As we look ahead, we are very much looking forward to Expo 2020, a celebration of the UAE’s Vision 2021, which will place Dubai at the heart of international societal and cultural developments. We are excited about the role we will play in removing barriers to travel by enabling more people to travel to Dubai, especially from the 71 destinations on our network that did not previously have direct air links to Dubai.
2020 will see us enter the third year of our strategic partnership with Emirates. Over 5.27 million passengers have benefitted from seamless connectivity on the Emirates and flydubai network since the partnership began in October 2017. The partnership looks set to continue to grow next year and this will help to further strengthen Dubai’s position as a leading global aviation hub.
"We are very much looking forward to Expo 2020, a celebration of the UAE’s Vision 2021"
We will remain focused on identifying new markets to further expand our network within our geographical reach. Our holidays division will continue to complement any further expansion by allowing customers to customise packages to include flights, hotels and other ancillary services.
We look to 2020 with a sense of cautious optimism and we are excited about writing the next chapter of the flydubai story.