Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO flydubai
flydubai currently operates to over 115 destinations across the globe and with the wide-bodies coming, the list of destinations are bound to increase. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/ Gulf News

Dubai: Upon acquiring the 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, valued at $11 billion, flydubai plans to introduce new routes focusing on longer-haul traffic, according to CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith.

The Dubai carrier finalised the order with the American OEM during the Dubai Airshow, and the CEO envisions incorporating the wide-body aircraft into the fleet by 2026. The strategic emphasis will be on expanding routes and addressing capacity limitations on existing ones, said Al Ghaith.

“Some will address capacity shortages on existing routes. By 2026, when we receive these aircraft, we anticipate enhanced flexibility in deploying them where needed, especially on routes currently facing capacity constraints,” Al Ghaith told Gulf News. However, a majority of the routes will be new. “The globe will be our destination; we can go anywhere,” he said.

“While a smaller portion will be allocated to existing routes, the primary focus is on expanding into new territories,” said the CEO. “These new ‘Dreamliners’ have given us the scope to dream bigger and broaden our focus,” Al Ghaith added.

“We are confident in the evolution of Dubai’s traffic composition over the past decade, anticipating further growth and change. This dynamic environment offers us ample room to expand and explore new destinations globally,” he said.

The airline is enjoying a growth streak, and is looking forward to a solid fourth quarter. “Forward bookings are looking good well into the first quarter of next year,” said Al Ghaith Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

The airline currently operates to over 115 destinations across the globe. AlGhaith also said flydubai is committed to serving from Dubai International Airport and the city’s second hub in Dubai World Central (DWC), depending on their growth plans.

Higher airfares?

Commenting on whether the new aircraft would raise flydubai’s air ticket prices, AlGhaith said, “We are committed to providing a diverse range of options for our passengers. Whether they are seeking budget-friendly prices or the full-service experience, we ensure that all types of travellers have the opportunity to fly with us.”

No longer an LCC

The Dubai carrier has been moving away from the low-cost carrier (LCC) or budget model for some time, and the acquisition of the 30 Dreamliners gives the airline a competitive edge, along with Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, to serve customers worldwide. Emirates shares a codeshare agreement with flydubai, and its combined operations give travellers access to over 200 destinations. Moreover, the airline also offers Business Class seats to customers.

In an earlier interview with Gulf News, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, said he hoped the two teams would find a way to collaborate more than they already are. “I would always approve of it. For me, Emirates and flydubai are one,” he said.

Right time for wide-body expansion

Commenting on why the airline started operating the wide-body aircraft, Al Ghaith said acquiring the aircraft aligns with the flydubai’s growth.

“By the time we receive the planes, we’ll be 18 years old as an airline, marking a significant milestone. This maturity period presents an excellent opportunity for expansion,” he added. On Tuesday, the airline also signed an agreement for a purpose-built $190 million (Dh697.3 million) maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Dubai South.

Looking forward to strong fourth quarter

AlGhaith also said the airline looks forward to a solid fourth quarter. “The fourth quarter will be very strong, better than last year. Yes, we have strong forward bookings, and this trend continues until summer next year,” he added.