The airline added 22 new routes last year. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai-based airline flydubai on Monday reported Dh841 million profit for 2021 while revenue surged by 86 per cent to Dh5.3 billion from Dh2.8 billion in the year-ago period.

With the easing of travel restrictions across the world, the airline saw an increase in demand, and carried 5.6 million passengers last year, a 76 per cent increase compared to 2020 levels.

“The tremendous results flydubai is reporting for 2021 come after a very challenging two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decisions taken by the UAE’s leadership, which saw the implementation of the precautionary safety measures throughout the customer journey, gave visitors the confidence to travel to Dubai,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of flydubai.

Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said the airline’s strong business model helped it tide through the crisis. “As demand returned these strong fundamentals have translated into a significant improvement in our financial performance.”

Sharjah-based carrier Air Arabia had last month reported a profit of Dh467 million in the fourth quarter, compared to Dh20 million a year ago, amid a recovery in air travel demand. The low-cost carrier said that the turnover for the last quarter of 2021 reached Dh1.3 billion, an increase of 143 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

Demand picks up

The airline’s overall seat factor -- a metric used to assess the efficiency of an airline provider in filling seats and generating revenues – stood at 69 per cent.

The airline added 22 new routes last year, 13 of which were previously unserved destinations from Dubai.

Alexandria (HBE), Bahrain (BAH), Bucharest (OTP), Doha (DOH) and Karachi (KHI) were among its busiest routes, the airline said.

In December 2021, the airline operated 6,430 flights, much higher than the 5,701 flights it operated in January 2020.

The airline has also seen an increase in demand for connecting traffic with 34 per cent of passengers connecting on to the flydubai network or through its codeshare with Emirates.

Expanding fleet

The airline fleet expanded to 59 aircraft including 34 next-generation Boeing 737-800, 22 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and three Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft.

In July, flydubai reached an agreement with Boeing and the airline has adjusted its aircraft orders which had been placed in 2013 and 2017. The airline revised down the total number of aircraft it will receive by 65 aircraft. As of December 31, 25 aircraft had been received with 161 due for delivery.

Optimistic about 2022

“With the lifting of restrictions across our network and increasing demand for travel, we are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead notwithstanding the geopolitical situation and its potential effect on the pricing of commodities,” Ghaith Al Ghaith said.

“During 2022, we will see the largest number of aircraft delivered in any year since the launch of the airline. As the momentum for travel continues to build, we will increase frequencies and introduce new destinations on our network during 2022. To support this growth trajectory, we will need to recruit the best people in the industry willing to contribute to flydubai’s continued success story.”