Saudi Gazette report
LOW-COST carriers have proved successful in the region, flydubai’s Chief Commercial Officer Hamad Obaidallah said during a press roundtable at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the global exhibition bringing together industry leaders and travel professionals from all over the world, in Dubai.
The Dubai-based airline was named “Best Low-Cost Airline serving the Middle East” at the 2017 Business Traveller Middle East Awards this week, after it grew its regional network of 93 destinations in 44 countries, adding flights to Batumi in Georgia, Qabala in Azerbaijan and Tivat in Montenegro to offer more summer destinations starting in June.
“The competition has grown bigger and fiercer over the years,” he said, adding that the GCC region is the largest market for flydubai with 340 flights, including to 14 destinations in Saudi Arabia.
Tbilisi and Beirut were among the most visited destinations in 2016. The number of passengers traveling to Amman grew by 7% in 2016 compared to the previous year along with Tbilisi, which saw passenger numbers double for the same period. Other popular destinations included Istanbul and Bucharest, with passenger growth figures of 21% and 37% respectively in the same period. The highest growth of passengers in 2016 was seen by Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, which saw six times the number of passengers travel in 2016 compared to the previous year due to changes in visa requirements.
The carrier also showcased for the first time at the exhibition its OPEN rewards program that was launched six months ago.
The program, which is designed to make earning and spending reward points simple and straightforward, with no minimum balances or blackout dates, has attracted members from more than 200 nationalities to date.
The highest number of members came from India with 12% of the overall membership. The second largest number of members came from Pakistan followed by Saudi Arabia, Russia and the UAE.
Fifty percent of the accrual and redemption of the reward points came from its “OPEN” members residing in the UAE followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon. Around 60% of the “OPEN” rewards members are between the ages of 31 and 50, while 25% are between the ages of 21 and 30.
The Holidays division of flydubai will become the tour operating arm of the airline and aims to simplify travel by providing customers with the choice to customize packages including flights, hotels and other ancillary services such as airport transfers, sightseeing packages, car rental and more.
“Holidays by flydubai will represent a new milestone in flydubai’s journey as we enter a more mature phase of our operation,” said Obaidallah. “We continue to challenge the conventions of travel in the region and exceed our customers’ expectations. Holidays by flydubai will enhance the overall travel experience as we give customers the freedom to design their own holiday in one convenient place.”
As part of the offering, a new online portal for Holidays by flydubai, will allow customers to browse, book and pay for flights, accommodation and services all within a single booking process. The portal will also allow travel agents, distributors and flydubai-authorized travel shops to design and book tailor-made packages. Around the clock sales support will be another feature available to customers.
Vice President of Holidays, Nelson D’Souza said: “By combining internally sourced wholesale hotel rates and rates provided by third parties along with our competitive airfares, Holidays by flydubai will aim to provide affordable packages making travel more accessible to more people.”
He added, “We will work closely with travel trade experts to ensure the customer interface and the functionality of this portal is user-friendly, enjoyable and reliable.”
Holidays by flydubai will offer holiday packages around the flydubai network including popular destinations such as: Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Egypt, Georgia, India, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey and the UAE.