“I personally think we don’t have enough time to do a deal at the show,” Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said on the sidelines of the event.
The Dubai-based LCC already has 75 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft arriving between now and 2023 from a previous order securing further growth. But reports say the carrier could place another order of the same or higher magnitude. “We always work with the manufacturers for more aircraft,” Al Ghaith said, without going into more detail.
Flydubai took delivery of the first MAX in August.
Its further expansion hinges on several factors, most importantly more liberalized air service agreements in the regions. “We are very limited. We would like to introduce hundreds more flights to India, but we cannot,” Al Ghaith said. The airline is typically flying sectors up to six hours, the longest being the Dubai-Bangkok service.
The carrier is equipping its aircraft with new seats, including lie-flat seats in business class. The upgraded product is currently on nine aircraft and all the new MAXs will get the upmarket cabin “for the foreseeable future,” Al Ghaith said.
The other important variable for Flydubai’s business model is the newly launched cooperation with Emirates. Dubai’s two airlines have launched their first codeshare services and more initiatives are nearing.
One of the most important decisions to be made is how to align operations at Dubai International Airport (DXB). Al Ghaith said a decision should be made in the coming months and several options are on the table. Among them are Flydubai staying in Terminal 2 (which is on the opposite side of the runways from the main terminals), split operations on either side of the runways or a complete move to Terminal 1 or 3, from which Emirates operates.
As one of the first changes, the two airlines have reduced minimum connecting time between them from three hours to two, with passengers being bussed to the other side of airport to make their next flight.
At the same time, Flydubai plans to continue its growth at Dubai World Central (DWC) airport, where it currently operates a small portion of services. Al Ghaith can well imagine that operating from two airports could become a permanent solution. “There are many cities in the world that have two airports, so DXB could well stay open,” Al Ghaith said. DWC is the airport that is supposed to be large enough eventually to move the entire Emirates operation over. A firm date for the move has not been identified yet and the schedule for construction has been shifting.
(Jens Flottau - ATWOnline News)