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Thu 15 Dec 2011 11:04 AM

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Flydubai mulling new plane orders to boost fleet

CEO of no-frills carrier says in talks with Boeing, Airbus for future orders

Flydubai mulling new plane orders to boost fleet
Flydubai chief executive officer Ghaith al-Ghaith

Flydubai, the low-cost airline, is in talks with Boeing and Airbus for its future fleet requirements and expects to place a new order in the next few years, CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said.

The Dubai-based carrier signed an agreement for 50 Boeing 737-800NGs at Farnborough Airshow 2008, the first 20 of which have already been delivered. The remaining 30 are due for delivery by 2016, a year before the more efficient Boeing 737 MAX comes into service.

Flydubai may invest in the Boeing MAX in a follow-up purchase but has also not ruled out an order for the fuel-efficient Airbus A380neo, Al Ghaith said.

“We are very much interested in both the 737 MAX and the A320neo. Both of these developments… will be critical to the low-cost sector in terms of lowering operating costs, especially related to fuel, and passing those savings onto passengers,” he told Aviation Business.

“Aircraft such as the MAX and neo have the ability to support [our market position].”

Gulf airlines are among the largest buyers of new aircraft as they look to grow their fleets and gain market share from rival carriers.   

Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi’s state-backed airline, this week ordered 10 Boeing 787-9s valued at $2.3bn at list prices in a deal that made it the largest operator of the Dreamliner.

The UAE flag carrier also ordered two freighter versions of the 777 model for its cargo operations, taking the value of the deal at list prices to $2.8bn.

Dubai carrier Emirates Airline signed an $18bn deal with Boeing for the 777 aircraft in November, marking the airline’s largest civil jet order to date. The biggest international airline also has options for an additional 20 777s valued at $8bn.

Al Ghaith said that a final decision on whether to opt for the MAX or neo would not be made in the coming months.

“Of course, now is the time to look at our fleet requirements beyond 2016 and we will continue to focus on these two aircraft, but I cannot promise a decision very soon,” he said.

“We have to ensure the right selection is made and there is no immediate urgency, so I would expect an order announcement within the next year or maximum two years.”

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