FlyDubai Boosts Pakistan Low-Cost Presence

United Arab Emirates (UAE) low-cost carrier, FlyDubai is to launch flights to two further destinations in Pakistan as it continues its rapid network growth.  The airline first launched flights to Pakistan in June 2010 when it inaugurated services between Dubai and Karachi, but from next month will start to serve the cities of Multan and Sialkot.  Both destinations will be served on a three times weekly basis from the fast-expanding Dubai International Airport.

“Our flights to Karachi have been busy since operations began in June 2010.  With a significant number of expatriates living in the UAE, and established trade links, we expect these new destinations to be equally successful as people seek affordable fares between our nations,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer, FlyDubai.

“With a significant number of expatriates living in the UAE, and established trade links, we expect these new destinations to be equally successful as people seek affordable fares between our nations.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith
Chief, Executive Officer, FlyDubai

The three times weekly service to the north-eastern city of Sialkot will commence on March 13, 2013 while a similar three times weekly schedule will be introduced to the central Pakistan city of Multan from March 14, 2013.  Both routes will be served with an 189-seat Boeing 737-800.  In 2011, an estimated 2.33 million bi-directional O&D passengers travelled between Pakistan and the UAE, up 11.2 per cent on the previous year.  Around 56,000 of these passengers flew in or out of Sialkot, while approximately 16,000 began or ended their journeys in Multan.

FlyDubai will compete directly with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on the Dubai – Multan route.  The Pakistan national carrier currently offers a weekly flight on the route, which ultimately originates and terminates in Faisalabad, using a Boeing 737-300.  There is no direct competition on the Dubai – Sialkot route, but Air Arabia has recently launched its own low-cost flights from its Sharjah base, competing with the offerings of PIA and Shaheen Air International.

Sialkot is a major export hub for Pakistan and after Karachi is Pakistan's second largest source of foreign exchange earnings.  The per capita income of Sialkot is ranked among the highest in Pakistan but air services from Sialkot International Airport are limited.  Alongside the local catchment (the city has an estimated population of around 500,000 people) Fly Dubai is expected to use Sialkot as an alternative option for passengers travelling to Lahore. 

Multan, known as the City of Saints due to its large number of religious shrines, is Pakistan's third largest city by area and the country’s fifth largest by population. It is located on the banks of the Chenab River in the geographic center of the country in the Punjab region.  The city’s Muhammad Bin Qasim International Airport is relatively small when compared with some of Pakistan’s other major cities.  Despite serving a catchment covering Multan, Vehari, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Sahiwal, and Pakpattan, air services have been slow to take-off with operations limited to the domestic and limited international scheduled services of PIA and Shaheen Air International.

FlyDubai has seen rapid growth since it inaugurated flights on June 1, 2009.  Although not directly part of the Emirates Group, its formation was supported by the carrier and it is now strongly positioned as Dubai International Airport’s second largest operator with a 16.1 per cent share of flight departures and 11.8 per cent of available seats this month.  In the table below we highlight the network growth of the low-cost carrier since its formation.

SCHEDULED AIR NETWORK OF FLYDUBAI (non-stop annual departures)

Year

Departures

% Change

Seat Capacity

% Change

Destinations

2009

2,659

-

502,551

-

16

2010

16,056

503.8 %

3,034,584

503.8 %

29

2011

30,446

89.6 %

5,754,294

89.6 %

48

2012

43,738

43.7 %

8,266,482

43.7 %

54

2013

51,493

17.7 %

9,732,177

17.7 %

56