United Arab Emirates (UAE) low-cost carrier, flydubai, has confirmed the first phase of its 2015 network expansion as it seeks to continue its rapid development and introduce additional non-stop links from its Dubai International Airport base to destinations across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent.
Its latest growth for the first quarter of 2015 will see another three destinations added to its route map, further expanding the carrier’s footprint to 89 destinations in 46 countries. These comprise flights to Hargeisa (Somaliland), Chennai (India), and Nejran (Saudi Arabia).
Building on the momentum from this and last year, when 20 and 19 new destinations were added to the network, the airline has further cemented its commitment to enhance connectivity between different cultures. “These route announcements are a clear demonstration of the important role we are playing in the development of the tourism industry and there remains much opportunity,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive officer, flydubai.
The airline’s first new route of 2015 will be to the south western Saudi Arabian city of Nejran, located close to the Kingdom’s border with Yemen. It is one of the fastest growing destinations in Saudi Arabia with a population that has almost trebled over the past two decades. Flydubai will introduce a four times weekly link to Dubai from January 10, 2015, the first direct service on this city pair.
Another new market will be Hargeisa, Somaliland, which will be served on a four times weekly basis from Dubai International Airport from March 5, 2015 and will expand the carrier’s network in Africa to 13 points served by 60 weekly flights. This route is currently served by Jubba Airways and African Express Airways, albeit with much reduced frequencies.
The new routes underline flydubai’s commitment to connecting the UAE to previously underserved markets. The carrier has linked Dubai to 56 underserved destinations since it started its operations in 2009.
“We are committed to bringing flydubai’s high quality and reliable services to underserved markets like Hargeisa and giving passengers more options to travel to the UAE and beyond through Dubai’s aviation hub. We are sure that both our Economy Class and Business Class will exceed the passengers’ expectations and live up to the Dubai brand we proudly carry in our name,” noted Sudhir Sreedharan, senior vice president commercial (GCC, Subcontinent, Africa), flydubai.
flydubai’s rapid expansion plans continue to focus on destinations within a five hour flying radius from Dubai and supports its strategy in India, a major market for O&D demand in and out of the UAE. There is growing interest particularly from low-cost operators in this market due to the huge migrant demand between India and the UAE.
According to MIDT data, bi-directional O&D demand between Dubai International Airport and destinations across India has risen 143.6 per cent over the past ten years. An estimated 5.0 million travellers flew in this market in 2013, up from 2.0 million in 2004 and a growth of 28.9 per cent versus the previous year, the largest annual rise across the period.
The new link between Dubai and Chennai will launch from March 31, 2015 and will be operated on a three times weekly schedule. This city pair is already served with Air India, IndiGo and Emirates Airline already offering five flights per day between them. An estimated 390,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew in this market in 2013, up 20 per cent on the previous year.
“2014 continues to be a very busy year for flydubai. We have announced 26 new routes since January and took delivery of eight new aircraft to support the phenomenal growth plans,” said Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer, flydubai. “We are very excited about the untapped opportunities in the emerging African markets, the progress the UAE has made on the bilateral front in India and the ongoing strong ties with Saudi Arabia.”
This year flydubai celebrated its fifth anniversary, a period during which it has seen rapid network growth. It launched flights on June 1, 2009 with service from Dubai to Beirut, Lebanon and Amman, Jordan and is now firmly established as one of the major low-cost carriers serving the Arab States of the Gulf. According to OAG Schedules Analyser, the airline has grown its network from 19 points in 2009, to 27 in 2010, 48 in 2011, 53 in 2012, 72 in 2013 and 92 in 2014.
In our analysis, below, we highlight flydubai’s rapid capacity growth over the past five years. This has seen it grow its share of capacity at its Dubai International Airport base to 12.1 per cent this year as its annual network capacity has grown 3.9 per cent from 10.38 million seats in 2013 to 10.78 million seats in 2014.