flydubai to Serve Saudi City of Ha’il

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Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen,
Editor, Routesonline

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flydubai to Serve Saudi City of Ha’il

United Arab Emirates (UAE) low-cost carrier is to introduce a fifth Saudi Arabian destination to its network from Dubai International Airport when it launches flights to Ha'il, an oasis city in Nejd in the north west of the country next month.  The airline will introduce a twice weekly service to Ha’il Regional Airport from February 13, 2013 using its Boeing 737-800 jets.

“As we remain committed to better serve the Saudi market, we are grateful to the authorities for their continuous support of flydubai.  The start of this service reaffirms our commitment to serve regional airports with direct flights to Dubai,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer, flydubai.  “We look forward to serving passengers from Ha'il, which is becoming increasing important to the Kingdom's economy.”

Ha'il is a largely agricultural area with significant grain, date, and fruit production.  It historically derived its wealth from being on the camel caravan route of the Hajj but now contributes a large percentage of the Kingdom's total produce.

There are currently only limited air services from Ha’il with Saudi Arabian Airlines providing scheduled domestic links to Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh.  In the early 1980s the Saudi national carrier served the Pakistan city of Badin from Ha’il but since then international flights have been limited to occasional charters.  A start-up carrier Arabia International Airlines has also expressed interest in flying from Ha’il to destinations including Doha and Dubai as part of a wider network of flights within Saudi Arabia.

flydubai first launched services to Saudi Arabia in November 2010, and now serves Riyadh, Jeddah, Abha Yanbu, Dammam, Gassim, Tabuk and Taif.  In 2011 an estimated 2.24 million O&D passengers travelled between UAE and Saudi Arabia with flydubai holding an 11.0 per cent share of this traffic.  During the first nine months of 2012 O&D demand was up a massive 41.3 per cent compared with the same period last year, with flydubai increasing its own share of traffic to 23.2 per cent.

In the table below we highlight the growing air service capacity available between Saudi Arabia and the UAE and look at the individual market share of airlines between the two countries over the past five years.  The available seat capacity in this market has more than doubled during this period from just over 1.5 million seats in 2008 to almost 3.8 million in 2012. 

Emirates Airline is the dominant carrier having strengthened its position at the expense of Etihad Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines which dominated the market in 2008 and 2009.  Low-cost carriers Air Arabia and flydubai have also notably strengthened their market position, the latter set to become the second largest operator between UAE and Saudi Arabia this year having increased its capacity share to 20.3 per cent in 2012 from just 9.2 per cent the previous year.

SCHEDULED AIR CAPACITY BETWEEN SAUDI ARABIA AND UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (non-stop departures)

Rank

Airline

Seat Capacity (2012)

% Total 2012

% Total 2011

% Total 2010

% Total 2009

% Total 2008

1

Emirates Airline (EK)

914,365

24.2 %

28.5 %

26.4 %

22.1 %

20.8 %

2

Saudi Arabian Airlines (SV)

785,761

20.8 %

22.6 %

25.6 %

28.1 %

27.0 %

3

flydubai (FZ)

767,151

20.3 %

9.2 %

0.3 %

-

-

4

Etihad Airways (EY)

539,851

14.3 %

16.0 %

20.7 %

29.5 %

32.9 %

5

Air Arabia (G9)

423,630

11.2 %

11.5 %

13.7 %

9.8 %

8.3 %

6

NAS Air (XY)

243,697

6.4 %

7.1 %

8.2 %

3.5 %

3.6 %

7

RAK Airways (RT)

44,720

1.2 %

1.4 %

0.2 %

-

-

8

China Southern Airlines (CZ)

38,755

1.0 %

1.4 %

0.5 %

-

0.4 %

9

Ariana Afghan Airlines (FG)

19,680

0.5 %

1.4 %

2.0 %

1.4 %

-

10

United Airways (4H)

2,052

0.1 %

-

-

-

-

TOTAL (Seat Capacity)

3,780,403

2,759,617

1,918,321

1,654,273

1,532,913

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