Flydubai to expand operations to more cities in India

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Dubai-based low-cost airline flydubai is keen to expand operations to more cities in India.

Flydubai to expand operations to more cities in India

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai-based low-cost airline flydubai is keen to expand operations to more cities in India. The airline feels that being able to connect to over 40 destinations which were not accessible from Dubai earlier offers a good value proposition for many markets, including India. In a free-wheeling interaction with Indian media, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Ghaith-Al-Gaith, and Senior Vice-President Sudhir Sreedharan not only announced doubling of the destinations that flydubai operates to in India, but also stressed how flydubai is not in competition with another Dubai-based airline, Emirates.

When will the new flights start?

Sudhir: Very shortly. We’re waiting for regulatory approvals. We have filed for 10 flights, four to Delhi and three each to Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

What will be the USP since you are a low-cost carrier?

Sudhir: We will be able to connect these points in India to our network within GCC, Saudi Arabia, Russia, CIS and Africa. We fly to about 48 places that were previously not connected to Dubai. These flights will provide an opportunity to Indian customers to reach them.

Emirates also has a presence in all these countries. Will you be providing competition or supplementing Emirates?

Ghaith: Our focus is not to get into direct competition with Emirates. We do not go to a place because Emirates is going there or so that we can align with it and squeeze certain things from either the passengers or the market. We go to a market with the intent to offer the best service that we can to be more successful as a brand and for our shareholders.

But from a traditional low-cost model you have now migrated to business and economy…

Sudhir: In all the 48 markets, we have affluent passengers. We bring value to economy and business class customers. Then we fly to seven points in Saudi Arabia which are called secondary or tertiary markets like Abha and Gassin. Previously, these places had no connectivity from India so if a passenger from Gassin had to go to Delhi or Mumbai, he would have to travel to Riyadh and then onwards.

Do you want more seats?

Ghaith: Sure. We want to be in the north and south, we want to go to Mumbai.

If it is up to us, we will go to every airport in India. India will always be a priority when available.

With the entry of flydubai, will Dubai-based carriers also tap into the LCC market?

Ghaith: In the last one year, low-cost carriers have benefited from the seats that were exchanged. The market in India is so large that none of the airlines — Emirates, flydubai or the combined force of the West Asian carriers — will be able to meet the demand. The increase in seats is not the issue but we are offering an opportunity to fly where there were no connections earlier.

Will you look at investing in an Indian carrier?

Ghaith: Our directive, our investment focus as a company, has been to develop flydubai because we are only five years old. We want to grow the company. We ordered 50 aircraft earlier and then another 111. The Dubai Government wants to grow the airline and connect it to all destinations.

So we are focussed on that but it is not that we do not want to (invest in an Indian carrier) but do you think there is enough left in us to focus on buying another carrier? I do not see that unless the Government gives us another order to do something else. Please appreciate that our plate is currently full.

At a personal level I would love to create a partnership which creates value for both nations, either in an airline or anything in aviation.

As in putting in money…

Ghaith: If I had my personal wish yes. But this is not the order from the Government; they might fire me.

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