Flydubai network to cover 16 routes by end of 2009

Low-budget airline flydubai is still hoping to make a profit in 2009 – its first year of operations, says CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith.

“According to our plan, we will try to make profits this year, and we have not taken into account the possibility of making losses. But logically, if profits were made over the next three years it would be good,” he told a local Arabic daily.

Al Ghaith said the airline was not experiencing problems raising finance for its ambitious aircraft purchase programmes. He expected it would be flying on up to 16 routes by the end of the year provided the necessary approvals were obtained from the authorities.

The carrier has ordered 54 Boeings, which are due for delivery up to 2015-2016. Two are due to be handed over in May while six will be delivered before the end of the year and a further eight next year.

“There is no difficulty over finance because of the confidence in the aviation industry in the UAE in general,” he said. “Therefore, we managed to obtain finance offers from local and foreign banks. They are almost guaranteed offers, but we try to get the best offers.”

He said the airline aimed to offer passengers only the services they needed – and admitted that ticket prices had risen since they were first announced.

“Our aim is to have the lowest prices with as much flexibility as possible. A passenger only pays for the services he needs. Therefore, we have cut down on procedures to save the passenger money and time.

“We handle luggage piece-wise rather than weight-wise. We have set Dh40 for the first 32kg suitcase and Dh100 for the second 32kg suitcase, which is low compared to other carriers. We cut down on procedures to reduce costs and this reflects on ticket prices.

“It is true we started with low prices that rose gradually, which is normal. But our prices are still lower than those of others.”

Flydubai will commence operations at the beginning of June with flights to Amman and Beirut.

“We chose those destinations because they are important in summer and see an active travel movement. We opted for a small number of destinations to test our systems and staff. Over the next few days we will announce other destinations. We cannot disclose them now because there are some procedures that need the approval of the bodies concerned.

“But we can say that by the end of the year there will be 12 to 16 destinations, depending on the approvals. Some will be daily, some more than once a day and others weekly.”

He said the airline would endeavour to match the achievements of Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia.

“It is those companies that have put the UAE on the world map.

“We will try to add and complete what those companies have started.”

On the nature of flydubai’s relationship with Emirates and whether it would take customers away from the carrier, he said: “We serve different customers. Emirates focuses on high-level services while we concentrate on passengers who seek lower prices.”

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