flydubai Boosts Indian Footprint as Network Growth Continues

Building on the momentum from last year, when 17 new destinations where added to the network, the airline has further cemented its commitment to enhance connectivity between different cultures.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) low-cost carrier flydubai is to double its network in India with the launch this year of new links between Dubai and Delhi, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The carrier will also introduce its first flights into Kazakhstan and has confirmed its planned new service to the Russian capital, Moscow, will serve Vnukovo International Airport.

Building on the momentum from last year, when 17 new destinations where added to the network, the airline has further cemented its commitment to enhance connectivity between different cultures. “These route announcements are a clear demonstration of the important role we are playing in the development of the tourism industry and there remains much opportunity,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive officer, flydubai.

“As flydubai approaches its fifth year of operation it has created a network of 74 destinations in 35 countries.  Our commitment to further strengthen the trade, travel and tourism links in the region by opening up previously underserved markets supports The Dubai Tourism Vision 2020,” he added.

flydubai’s rapid expansion plans continue to focus on destinations within a five hour flying radius from Dubai and supports its strategy in India, a major market for O&D demand in and out of the UAE. The carrier first introduced flights into India in August 2009 to Chandigarh, Coimbatore and Lucknow and although the links to the first two destinations were stopped the following month due to licencing issues, the flights to Lucknow have continued. In July 2011, Hyderabad was added to the flydubai network and in September 2011 a link to Ahmedabad was introduced.

The new flights to Delhi, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram will grow India to the third largest country that flydubai operates to by number of destinations. “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to better serve the Indian market. India has always been an important market for flydubai,” said Sudhir Sreedharan, senior vice president commercial (GCC, Subcontinent, Africa), flydubai.

flydubai will be entering three competitive markets already served by its sister full-service carrier, Emirates Airline. Alongside the UAE carrier, Indian carriers Air India Express and IndiGo link Thiruvananthapuram and Dubai; Air India Express, IndiGo and SpiceJet link Delhi and Kochi; while Air India, IndiGo, Jet Airways and SpiceJet fly between Dubai and Delhi.

In our analysis, below, we look at the capacity on offer on these three routes and how this has changed over the past ten years.

According to MIDT data, bi-directional O&D demand between Dubai International Airport and destinations across India has risen 143.6 per cent over the past ten years. An estimated 5.0 million travellers flew in this market in 2013, up from 2.0 million in 2004 and a growth of 28.9 per cent versus the previous year, the largest annual rise across the period.   flydubai had just a 1.6 per cent share of this traffic in 2013, a market dominated by Emirates Airline, which had a 30.7 per cent share.

The is growing interest from low-cost operators in this market due to the huge migrant demand with Indian carriers Air India Express, IndiGo and SpiceJet significantly increasing their own shares of the market between 2012 and 2013. Air India Express boosted its share from 14.8 per cent to 17.6 per cent, IndiGo increased from 9.8 per cent to 16.2 per cent, while SpiceJet rose from 2.8 per cent to 8.5 per cent.

Alongside its growth in India, flydubai is also boosting its presence in Russia, another market that is important to its development strategy. Last year it doubled its network to eight points and has now become the largest operator out of the UAE to Russia by number of destinations since it marked its first entry to the market in 2010 with the start of flights to Samara and Yekaterinburg. It recently revealed plans to fly to Moscow and has now confirmed that it will launch a daily link to Vnukovo International Airport from September 23, 2014. Aeroflot Russian Airlines, Emirates Airline and Transaero Airlines all offer flights between Dubai and Moscow but the latter is the only operator serving Vnukovo International Airport.

There will also be further growth across Central Asia as flydubai adds its first flights to Kazakhstan to the cities of Almaty and Shymkent. Kazakhstan is certainly an emerging market but despite Air Astana and Air Company SCAT offering flights to Dubai in the past, data from OAG Schedules Analyser shows there have been no scheduled non-stop flights into Kazakhstan from the UAE metropolis since February 2013 after Air Astana focused its operations at Abu Dhabi.

“With flydubai’s daily direct flights to Moscow scheduled to start in September 2014, I am pleased to announce that our flights will operate to Vnukovo International Airport. Moreover, our flights to Kazakhstan will give passengers more opportunity to discover this market which offers great potential for trade and tourism,” confirmed Jeyhun Efendi, senior vice president commercial (UAE, EU, ME, CIS), flydubai.

These announcements, revealed at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, bring the total number of new destinations flydubai announced since the start of the year to nine and followed just a week after the low-cost carrier confirmed new links to Aden in Yemen and Kandahar in Afghanistan. The two new destinations are in countries where the airline already has a presence and both will be served using its two-class Boeing 737-800s that are fitted with a special Business Class cabin that was introduced to meet growing premium demand in some smaller markets from the UAE.

flydubai will offer a twice weekly service between Dubai and Kandahar from July 25, 2014 and a three times weekly offering between Dubai and Aden from August 1, 2014. The three rotations to Aden will operate in connection with Djibouti’s Ambouli International Airport, increasing to six weekly flights between the African nation and Dubai. The carrier also has traffic rights on the Aden - Djibouti sector.