The low-cost airline industry has been an integral part of the aviation sector for decades. Making air travel affordable has been a powerful driver of the sector’s growth since the first low-cost airline was launched in 1949.
From Ryanair to Spirit Airlines, the concept of the low-cost airline in Europe and North America is well established and with demand as high as ever, it was only a matter of time before Saudi Arabia and the Middle East started to actively address this latent demand.
As the biggest country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has a desire to stimulate its economy and bring a greater diversity to the country's revenues through its ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 programme. The desire for a thriving economy will ensure the growth of many areas of the existing economy, including aviation.
Prior to the inception of flyadeal in 2017, the country was lacking a genuine low-fare option. Its launch, which represented a true low-cost ethos, became the benchmark of how to create a simple, no-frills flying proposition.
The company focused on innovation from the very beginning, becoming the first airline in the world to launch purely as digital - selling 10,000 tickets on day one. Focus on simplicity and effectiveness helped to ensure that within the first year of flying, flyadeal became the second largest airline to operate on the highest traffic route in MENA, Jeddah-Riyadh. By 2022 flyadeal exceeded pre-Covid flying capacity and is recognised as the fastest-growing airline in the Saudi Arabian market.
As a company, it has also displayed a desire to profoundly change the Saudi Arabian aviation industry, becoming the first Saudi Arabian airline to employ Saudi female cabin crew and female pilots. It culminated in 2022 with flyadeal becoming the first Saudi Arabian airline to operate a flight with an all-female crew.
As an airline designed for the future, flyadeal is embracing the ethos of Vision 2030. It desires to communicate purely through a digital medium by engaging directly on social media with the country's younger generation. This provides a powerful platform to connect with an audience that has a mobile-first attitude.
The young generation in the country account for a large part of Saudi Arabia's population. It is a section of society that typically seeks new opportunities and the chance to travel, thus allowing flyadeal to effectively market its affordable travel option. The ability to appeal to this generational mindset has helped flyadeal welcome over 18 million passengers since its launch.
The company operates as a successful business with its customer at its core and in one of the world's most connected digital and social markets it looks to the future, with optimism. At present, low-cost travel growth is one of the key global megatrends and the country aims to have 330 million airline customers by 2030. In 2022, flyadeal embarked on a very ambitious international network expansion strategy. And it is perfectly placed to continue meeting the desire for affordable travel in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and beyond.