Theodore Karasik, Senior Advisor, Gulf State Analytics Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Dubai-based analyst with long ties to Russia said the fatal crash of a flydubai passenger jet on Saturday morning in southern Russia was surprising given the budget airline’s safe and reliable air history in its seven years of operation.

Fifty-five passengers and seven crew died when the Boeing 737-800 crashed in poor weather at the airport in Rostov-on-Don.

Theodore Karasik, Senior Advisor, Gulf State Analytics, told Gulf News that Saturday’s fatal crash is a first since the low-cost carrier began operations in 2009.

“Clearly, this tragedy requires the necessary investigation into the cause of the crash. All the appropriate measures are being taken to deal with this disaster by both Russian and Dubai authorities,” Karasik said in an interview from Malta.

“Flydubai has had other incidents such as bird strikes and minor mechanical problems but nothing extraordinary that affects other airlines around the world,” he said.

“Flydubai is extensive in the Russian Federation. Although economics is affecting some of the current and future routing between Dubai and Russia, flydubai is the standard for travel between Russia and Dubai.”

Karasik, who has a PhD in Russian history and has worked on Russian matters for more than 30 years, once lived in Rostov-on-Don where the flydubai crash happened.

He said weather can be unpredictable for planes travelling in and out of the area along the Ukranian border.

“Rostov-on-Don is considered a jewel of southern Russia. The crash is hitting Russians hard because of the tragedy and the timing,” Karasik said.

“Rostov-on-Don is a small airport by international standards. The airport is undergoing upgrading and expansion in preparation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Weather in Rostov-on-Don can be extremely unstable and thus affects commercial aviation,” he said.

Press agencies are reporting that flydubai FZ-981 appeared to crash 250 metres short of the runway after aborting its first landing attempt, circling for some time and then making the last fatal attempt.