Georgian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Vera Kobalia received a token from Jamal Al Hai, ESVP Communications and International Affairs, Dubai Airports, and Member of the FNC and Gaith Al Gaith, CEO of flydubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Flydubai, Dubai's low-cost airline, on Friday celebrated the launch of its direct flights to Tbilisi in Georgia, its 45th international destination.

"The inaugural flight represents an important milestone in the development of relations between the two nations with flydubai the first UAE airline to offer direct flights between the UAE and Georgia," the airline said in a statement.

Flight FZ713 took off from Dubai International Airport Terminal 2 at 11.45pm on Friday and landed at Tbilisi International Airport at 3.15am the next day.

The Georgia service expands the airline's network in central and eastern Europe to 11 destinations. Flydubai also flies to Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkmenistan.

Jamal Al Hai, ESVP Communications and International Affairs, Dubai Airports, and Member of the UAE Federal National Council, said: "The UAE is always open to new opportunities with other emerging nations and from today we can look forward to working closer with Georgia in the years to come."

Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi, flydubai CEO Gaith Al Gaith said: "At flydubai, we aim to connect Dubai to emerging destinations and we are very excited about the route to Tbilisi — a capital steeped in history. In addition to promoting travel and tourism between our nations, we hope that these new flights will play a role in forging future collaborations in the various fields of common interest such as banking and real estate."

Tbilisi is the largest city in Georgia and a popular tourist destination thanks to its picturesque setting on hillsides either side of the Mtkvari River. Operating as the capital of Georgia since the 5th century, the city is home to several historical attractions including the fourth-century Narikala Fortress, Metekhi Church, sixth-century Anchiskhati Basilica and the sulphur baths of Abanotubani.

Vera Kobalia, the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, said: "Georgia is becoming more and more attractive for foreign airlines and the interest from Arab airline to enter is another example. The decision will increase passenger flow between Georgia and the United Arab Emirates and have a positive impact on the trade and tourism cooperation between two countries."

From its historical beginnings, Tbilisi has evolved to a 1.5 million-strong cosmopolitan city nurturing a fast-developing business environment, a vibrant cultural scene and exciting nightlife.

International business tourism has also surged in recent years with the influx of new projects in the real estate, hospitality, retail and leisure sectors. It is also a dynamic political, cultural, and economic hub.

George Karbelashvili, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, agreed that the new Tbilisi services will help encourage tourism and foster two-way trade links.

Core sectors

"Dubai and Tbilisi share many core sectors of industry, which will benefit from the introduction of these direct flights. I see flydubai as a key partner to help us promote our country to tourists and the business community in the UAE and wider Middle East looking to visit Central and Eastern Europe."