Phil Blizzard here talks to Ghaith al Ghaith, chief executive, flydubai as they launched new services to India. Three new destinations were added to their network in the first week of June.
Breaking Travel News: Ghaith please start by providing an overview of the formation and development of the airline, along with the focus of your operations.
Ghaith al Ghaith: flydubai was launched in 2008.
In Farnborough, I guess we made history.
We’ve ordered 50 aircrafts before we started flying or even booking one seat.
So that was the start - in Farnborough.
From then onwards, we’ve launched the airline.
Actually the first flight was in June 2009.
Now in our fifth anniversary, June 2014, we are celebrating by announcing five more routes.
We have 74 destinations and we cover an area of five and a half hours radius to and from Dubai.
We have received over now 36 of the 50 aircraft we’ve ordered and ever since we made another order in the last Airshow for 111 new aircraft.
So what we can say, flydubai is an extension of the success of Dubai.
We are an airline that is focused on connecting Dubai to the region of five and half hours away.
Out of our 74 destinations there are 48 routes which are not well-served or were not served at all from Dubai.
BTN: Allow me to say then that with the routes you have and you say 74 destinations in just five years. That is considerable growth - phenomenal growth in such a short period of time. You mentioned about your aircraft orders. So with those coming on stream, a further over 100 you were saying, over what time frame?
GG: A totals of 111 aircraft, starting in 2016 until beyond 2020.
BTN: So with those aircraft coming into the fleet over that time frame what’s your planned number of destinations?
GG: Well, we live in a part of the world where in the radius of two and a half hours there are 2.5 billion people live and so there are lots of opportunities to connect Dubai to a lot of places.
The number we are looking at - we’re trying to achieve over 100 destinations but it’s not the number of destinations.
It is also the number of flights you have to some of these destinations.
And one of the things that we are focusing on is to start and build up the capacity in some of these routes.
And then there are lots of opportunities in this region and especially the way our country is developing and Destination Dubai is becoming more attractive to a lot of people in the world.
The more routes we open, the more people can have the opportunity of visiting Dubai.
flydubai arrives in India earlier this month
BTN: Give us some indication on the type of service which is offered on board a flydubai flight?
GG: Well, flydubai is an airline that started and we are proud to be focusing on a low-cost airline but low-cost for us is the way we are managing our business, making sure that our cost is efficient and as low as possible.
We are offering people services that are basic which is the basic prices.
We are innovating; we try to add more facilities because, for example, people if they are flying without a bag, we don’t charge them for the bag.
So we charge for extra luggage as passenger requires.
We charge for the food but we offer very delicious food.
We innovated by introducing television, we have television on every seat in our aircraft.
For the movies, we have over 200 Hollywood movies playing on board but a passenger has to pay for it.
flydubai is given the traditional water cannon salute on arrival in India
BTN: I also remember you have newspapers on the In-flight screen as well on some of your flights.
GG: For example, we innovated by rather than carrying the actual newspaper, the e-readers, you can read the newspaper on the palm of your hand from the system itself but that system for example we have it on board, we sell it and we cover the cost of the movies including the fuel that we burn.
So we are very much focused, religiously-guided by making sure anything that the cost and the revenue.
Lately, of course, I was just going to add, we introduced Business Class.
BTN: Business Class on board a low cost airline, why?
GG: And that was I guess another revolution as far as the type of product that we have because we found, at that time, 45 destinations we are flying to that there is no proper service to and from Dubai.
And Dubai, being the capital of business here, there is a lot of demand for business so we’ve introduced Business Class.
BTN: This is very much being rolled out, so how many destinations are offered the Business Class?
GG: I think over 40 or 45 now.
We have 19 of our 36 aircraft that has Business Class. As we move on, we’ll be adding more aircraft.
BTN: Looking at your developments in 2014, which new will be coming on stream?
GG: We will have announced nine new routes this year - including Moscow in September and also Aden in Yemen, but before those we have just added three new destinations in India.
We commenced flying to New Delhi on June 1st, with four weekly flights.
Followed by flights to both Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram on June 2nd and 3rd respectively, with three flights per week to each of those two destinations.
These new routes bring the total number of Indian cities served by the carrier to six, including its existing routes Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Lucknow.
Flydubai is considered the Middle East’s Leading Low-cost Airline by the World Travel Awards.
World Travel Awards will also host its annual Asia & Australasia Gala Ceremony in India, at The Oberoi New Delhi, on September 10th.