By Beatrice Thomas
Al Ghaith said there was no place for an EasyJet or Ryanair-style operation
Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith has rejected the idea of an ultra cheap no-frills carrier being set up in the Gulf, saying the diverse customer base in the region meant such a move was not viable.
Last week Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan said he believed there was a gap in the Gulf market for such an airline but ruled out any plans for the Abu Dhabi carrier to launch a separate low-cost subsidiary.
With flydubai positioning itself in the opposite direction to other low-cost offerings with the launch last October of a business class service on its fights, Al Ghaith said he believed there was no market for a EasyJet or RyanAir-style operation to be set up in the region.
“In this part of the world, you cannot look at this as Europe or as America,” he told Arabian Business in a sit-down interview at Arabian Travel Market.
“In America you have one customer, so if you grow a picture of the customer, meaning how they are, their habits, what they need you can grow 80 percent (from that) one picture, so one customer.
“If you look at the market in terms of law, or rules, you can set up in any one market, because it’s one market. If you look at the product it’s one product, so you can have one product that fits all.
“Here, the markets, the block we are living in, is not one market, the consumers are totally different, everybody needs different things. That’s why you cannot just bring a limited, closed-minded, one product, low-cost (airline) and say this is what will work. It did not work in the past, it’s not working and probably will not work.”
Since starting its business class service, flydubai has been gradually retrofitting its Boeing 737 fleet of aircraft with business class seats as well as making it available on all incoming aircraft orders.
Al Ghaith said it had been well-received, though declined to give passenger load factor figure, and expected all aircraft would eventually have business class with the exception of a few economy-only routes.
Following the announcement of five new routes this week, the carrier has a network of 74 destinations in 35 countries and 36 Boeing aircraft, with another 86 Boeing 737s on order and purchase rights for a further 25.
Al Ghaith said on Monday that flydubai would aim for 100 routes and 100 aircraft by 2020 – the same year Dubai will host the World Expo.