flydubai reaches 50 aircraft; has operated to over 110 destinations from Dubai; overlaps with Emirates on 34 routes

Taking delivery of flydubai’s 50th 737-800 aircraft at Boeing Field, Seattle earlier this week were: James Vial, Senior VP, Flight Operations at flydubai; Captains Wilhelm Guna and Alan Hopps; Alan Smith and Solomon Yimer from Engineering and Maintenance; and Jocelyn Duff from Network Control. This completes the order the airline placed for 50 aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show in 2008. This 50th aircraft departed Seattle for Iceland before flying on to Amman in Jordan where it will have its seats and IFE systems fitted.

It has taken flydubai just under 76 months since operating its first commercial flight on 1 June 2009 (to Beirut) to grow its fleet to 50 aircraft, all of them 737-800s. Since then it has started over 110 routes from Dubai’s main airport and last year the carrier transported over 7.2 million passengers. Growth was relatively modest in 2014 primarily as a result of the runway maintenance works at Dubai Airport which significantly reduced operations for several months. Growth has been rapid (with the exception of 2014) and the airline now operates well over 100 daily departures from Dubai Airport.

Chart: flydubai's growth 2009-2015 - Weekly departures from Dubai and destinations served

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for first week of August each year.

Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran generate most routes

The airline’s extensive network covers over 90 destinations in over 40 countries. Based on weekly departures the leading country market by some distance is Saudi Arabia, with 137 weekly departures in the first week of October, representing almost 17% of the airline’s entire weekly movements. These are spread across 13 destinations in Saudi Arabia, with nine of them served at least daily. Some way behind in terms of weekly departures is Kuwait. All 80 weekly services to the country are to the capital, Kuwait City, making it the airline’s single busiest route.

While Russia ranks only tenth in terms of total weekly departures, these are spread across 10 different airports. Similarly, Iran ranks as only the seventh biggest country market but flydubai operates to nine different airports in the country.

Chart: flydubai top 15 country markets - Weekly departures from Dubai - (Number of destinations served)

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 5 October 2015.

Given the political situation in some of the countries within the range of flydubai’s 737-800s it is no surprise that some destinations have been suspended in recent years. These include airports in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. Between now and the end of the year flydubai will be adding several more destinations to its network; Novosibirsk (starting 4 October) and Nizhniy Novgorod in Russia (7 October), Asmara in Eritrea (25 October) and Astana in Kazakhstan (26 October).

From 25 October the airline will start to split its operations by launching flights from Dubai Al Maktoum, Dubai’s second airport. Daily (or double-daily) flights will be introduced to Amman, Beirut, Chittagong, Doha, Kathmandu, Kuwait and Muscat. All of these destinations are already served from the airline’s main hub and will continue to be served after these new routes begin.

Overlaps with Emirates on 34 routes; Prague is longest sector

Maybe surprisingly, flydubai operates to 34 destinations that are also served by Emirates from Dubai. With Emirates operating a high-quality service on an all wide-body fleet of aircraft, flydubai targets a different passenger segment, one for whom price is more important than comfort. Segmented by geography the 34 destinations served by both airlines are summarised in the following table.

Region Airport (code, Emirates weekly frequencies:flydubai weekly frequencies)
Africa (4) Addis Ababa (ADD, 7:3), Dar Es Salaam (DAR, 14:2), Entebbe (EBB, 7:5), Khartoum (KRT, 4:13)
Asia (13) Ahmedabad (AMD, 11:2), Colombo (CMB, 20:15), Chennai (MAA, 21:3), Delhi (DEL, 28:5), Dhaka (DAC, 21:14), Hyderabad (HYD, 21:4), Karachi (KHI, 49:28), Kochi (COK, 21:4), Malé (MLE, 21:6), Multan (MUX, 4:9), Mumbai (BOM, 35:5), Sialkot (SKT, 7:8), Thiruvananthapuram (TRV, 14:3)
Europe (1) Prague (PRG, 7:4)
Middle East (16) Amman (AMM, 21:7), Bahrain (BAH, 28:28), Baghdad (BGW, 4:14), Basra (BSR, 10:7), Beirut (BEY, 21:14), Dammam (DMM, 21:21), Doha (DOH, 49:63), Erbil (EBL, 4:7), Jeddah (JED, 17:21), Kabul (KBL, 7:21), Kuwait City (KWI, 49:70), Madinah (MED, 7:7), Mashhad (MHD, 5:7), Muscat (MCT, 21:42), Riyadh (RUH, 14:7), Tehran (IKA, 28:3)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 5 October 2015.

The airline’s longest sector is to Prague in the Czech Republic, at 4,461 kilometres. The route was started last December as was the airline’s second longest sector to Bratislava in Slovakia. The airline’s shortest sector is to Bandar Abbas in Iran at just 240 kilometres.

flydubai network

flydubai’s route network from Dubai in 2015.

Future growth will come from the airline’s next batch of aircraft orders. flydubai will receive 11 737-800NGs between 2016 and 2017, followed by 100 737 MAX between 2017 and 2023. This could give it a fleet of over 150 aircraft by 2023 if not many of the airline’s earlier 737-800s are passed on to other carriers to maintain the fleet’s low average age.

The launch last December of flights to Bratislava in Slovakia was part of a wave of new services to Central Europe which also included Prague, Sarajevo, Sofia and Zagreb. Prague and Bratislava are flydubai’s two longest sectors at 4,461 kilometres and 4,179 kilometres respectively.


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