flydubai CCO outlines the expectations and expansion of the airline

Oozing optimism

November 24, 2017
Mahmoud Ahmad

Saudi Gazette

FLYDUBAI’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Hamad Obaidalla oozed optimism about the airline’s expectations and expansion in the region and highlighted that the low-cost Dubai-based airline is ready to take wings by adding new destinations to the ones they already serve.

While stressing on the expectations about the region’s market and flydubai’s performance Obaidalla, while speaking to Saudi Gazette, said, “We strive to expand and explore new growth opportunities for flydubai inside and outside the region. The GCC and Middle East represent the most important markets for us due to geographic proximity. Over the past years, we have built a large network of destinations. Today we serve 29 destinations in the Middle East, 17 of which are in GCC. In figures, we fly 314 flights a week. We also serve 12 destinations in ME with 76 flights a week.”

While enumerating the airline’s growth factors, Obaidalla added, “There are numerous factors that help flydubai expand such as facilities offered to visas approved by UAE. Now, many nationalities can get the entry visas upon arrival including Chinese and Russian tourists. Partnership agreement with Emirates that provides a plethora of options to travelers whether in connecting flights or through loyalty programs. The agreement also reduces waiting time for travelers going through Dubai Airport onward to their final destinations. The agreement offers travelers options to travel to more than 220 destinations.”

On flydubai’s 2017 performance, he said, “We have launched 6 new destinations in various geographic locations and have started running for the first time seasonal trips to three destinations: Georgia, Serbia, Azerbaijan during summer only. There was a large demand on these international destinations especially between June and September. The Russian market is vital for us. This expansion comes in line with our growth strategy to operate flights to destinations that have never been served before by the region. Over the past few years, we operated 60 destinations that were not served by airliners in the region. Flydubai has seen healthy growth despite economic and political challenges that have been facing aviation sector over the past two years.”

On flydubai’s acquisition of 737 Max, Obaidalla stated, “We received the first Boeing 737 Max 8 in the second half of this year. This airplane is highly-efficient in terms of fuel consumption compared with current generation of airplanes. It consumes fuel 14 % less. We will be able to penetrate new markets and launch new destinations.”

Obaidalla was circumspect on the effect of oil price slump on the industry. He said, “Fuel accounts for 25 % of total expenses. Because we operate various flights all over the world, we were able to cope with increase or decrease of oil prices. Oil price in the GCC is a double-edge sword. If the prices go down, airlines will benefit and their profits will increase. But also if the price dramatically decreases, this will have an impact on commerce and tourism sectors because GCC countries rely on oil for return.”

Speaking on the company’s fleet, he said, “10.4 million passengers flew on board of flydubai in 2016, representing a growth of 14.4 %. We serve 95 destinations in 44 countries around the world. The fleet has 61 Boeing 737-800 airplanes.”

Obaidalla viewed the Saudi market as one of the largest and vital, when asked how he viewed the Saudi market? He said, “Flydubai serves the Saudi market and operates 13 destinations. The market is one of the largest and most vital for flydubai as the number of passengers from this market has been increasing.”

“We always seek to enhance our services in the markets we serve, including the Saudi market. Currently, we serve 13 destinations and offer a wide variety of travel services to families and youth,” he added.

“For Dubai City, aviation sector plays a pivotal role in economic development. It is expected that it will contribute to 37 % of GDP in 2010. We will continue to work in the next years to attract 20 million passengers by 2020,” Obaidalla said, adding, “We provide cargo services to all cities and destinations In the Kingdom. We signed agreements to operate cargo flights to more than 200 destinations. We will continue to offer new services and promotions to passengers from the Kingdom. We launched Business Class in 2013 following a large demand from Saudi passengers.”

When asked about flydubai and how does it compare to its competition, Obaidalla said, “Since we began operations in 2009, flydubai has remained committed to removing barriers to travel and enhancing connectivity between different cultures.

“Our extensive route network of more than 95 destinations in 44 countries offers our passengers great flexibility and choice. We have also opened up 67 new routes that did not previously have direct air links to Dubai.

“At the Dubai Airshow 2017, we unveiled our brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 and announced a commitment to a $27 billion order for 225 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to support the growth of our fleet.”

When asked how he saw flydubai competing especially with other regional airlines? Obaidalla said, “Competition is healthy for the industry. Ten years ago, there were only a few players in the region. Today, many more carriers have entered the market, but there is still potential for growth in terms of passenger numbers, network expansion and destinations.” While elaborating on flydubai’s operational set up, he said, “flydubai operates from Dubai International (DXB) with a select number of flights operating from Al Maktoum International (DWC). Dubai International has seen strong passenger growth over the past years and Dubai has established itself as a truly international hub for tourism and aviation.”

In response to the query of how does flydubai benefit as a member of IATA? he said, “We are committed to support IATA’s efforts to set the industry’s priorities and drive change in the aviation sector and as a member of IATA we embrace all initiatives as we continually look at ways to innovate.”

On possible or future promotions, he said, “We run regular promotions and all the details about our promotions and special offers are available on the Offers Section of our website”

He rounded off with an optimistic outlook of flydubai’s future stating, “We look to the future with much excitement and look forward to continuing to provide our passengers with greater opportunities for travel across our network. Furthermore, the addition of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to our fleet and our commitment to an order for an additional 225 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will support our continued expansion well into the future.”

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