Budget carrier flydubai announced a $27-billion-order for 225 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on Wednesday, in a deal that will more than triple the airline’s current fleet of 61 aircraft.
The deal includes orders for 175 aircraft and options for another 50 aircraft. The carrier will receive the first aircraft of this order in 2019, with the rest of the deliveries scheduled to continue from then until 2029.
Flydubai said the order includes 737-800, 900, and a “significant quantity” of 737-1000.
The announcement was a surprise on the fourth day of the Dubai Air Show, with many airlines having already announced their deals during the first half of the five-day show.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group and Chairman of flydubai, said teams from the carrier and Boeing had been working together on a deal, which was only finalised one on Wednesday morning just a short while before a press conference to announce it.
Gaith Al Gaith, flydubai’s chief executive officer, had told Gulf News on the first day of the Air Show that the carrier was “definitely in the market for more aircraft,” and is already looking at how it will expand its fleet beyond 2023.
The Boeing deal is also a blow to Airbus, which is yet to receive a purchase deal from any of the UAE’s airlines. Al Ghaith had earlier said flydubai was considering Boeing’s 737 models, as well as Airbus’ 320 and 321neos, but could not provide more details as the company was not close to a deal.
“We [looked] at both types of aircraft; the [Boeing] 737 and the Airbus A320, and then the decision came from our technical [team who was] happy with this aircraft since the start of operations,” Shaikh Ahmad said in a press conference when asked about speculations that flydubai would split its order between Boeing and Airbus.
Discussing the flydubai network, CEO Al Gaith said the carrier will use the new aircraft to continue to expand, and will add new destinations that are currently underserved. He didn’t elaborate on what those cities may be, but he had earlier told Gulf News flydubai was eyeing expanding its routes to Russia, Africa, and Europe.
The CEO also expressed confidence in multiplying the airline’s fleet at a time when the operating environment remains challenging due to yield pressure and slower global economic growth.
“As far as we are concerned, if there [are] any issues in the airline [industry], history tells us that these issues are always for short periods of time. You have to align yourself to a vision, and our vision is aligned to the vision of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai to expand the reach,” Al Ghaith said.
The Boeing deal on Wednesday marks the third aircraft order placed by flydubai in its eight-year history, and follows orders placed in 2008 and 2013. It also brings the total number of aircraft the airline has on order to 320.
By the end of this year, the carrier will have a fleet of 61 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.