United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier, flydubai, has revealed ambitious plans to expand its activities in Iran with the introduction of five new destinations in the country from next month as it grows its network to seven cities and 23 flights per week, just six months after making its debut in Iran.
The budget carrier plans to links its Dubai International Airport base with Ahwaz, Hamadan, Isfahan, Shiraz and Tabriz, adding to its existing flights to Tehran and Mashhad, which were launched in August 2014.
The expansion will commence from March 8, 2015 when a three times weekly link to Shiraz is added, followed from March 11, 2015 with a three times weekly link to Isfahan and from March 14, 2015 by a three times weekly offering to Ahwaz. Hamadan will be served weekly from March 16, 2015 when a four times weekly service to Tabriz will also be inaugurated.
“We look forward to starting flights to these new destinations in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Six months ago, Tehran and Mashhad joined the flydubai network, and we have seen strong demand from travellers between these two cities and Dubai,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive officer, flydubai.
This growth continues the dramatic rise of the budget airline in the Dubai market. It launched 23 new destinations from Dubai International Airport in 2014 and now operates more than 1,400 weekly flights to an expanding network of 94 destinations within a six-hour flying radius of the metropolis. Almost two-thirds of these markets were previously underserved with few or no direct flights from Dubai.
The UAE – Iran market is dominated by Emirates Airline (26.3 per cent share of March 2015 capacity), but Iranian carrier Iran Aseman Airlines (26.0 per cent share) follows close behind. Other Iranian carriers like Mahan Air (15.6 per cent) and IranAir (14.8 per cent) and Kish Air (7.3 per cent) have notable presence in the market ahead of the likes of UAE operators Air Arabia (4.3 per cent) and Etihad Airways (1.8 per cent).
Flydubai is already operating alongside its sister carrier Emirates Airline on the Dubai –Tehran route, as well as Caspian Airlines, IranAir, Iran Aseman Airlines, Iranian Naft Airlines, Kish Air, Mahan Air and Taban Air, so it is not afraid of direct competition.
According to OAG Schedules Analyser, the Dubai – Ahwaz market is served by Caspian Airlines, IranAir, Iran Aseman Airlines, Iranian Naft Airlines and Taban Air; Dubai – Isfahan by IranAir and Kish Air; Dubai – Shiraz by IranAir and Iran Aseman Airlines and Dubai – Tabriz by Iran Aseman, Iranian Naft Airlines and KishAir.
There are currently no schedule flights between Dubai and Hamadan, believed to be among the oldest Iranian cities and one of the oldest in the world. The city is located in the green mountainous area in the foothills of Alvand Mountain, in the midwest part of Iran at a height of over 1,800 metres above sea level. It is suggested that it was occupied by the Assyrians in 1100 BCE and this history and its location make the old city and its historic sites attractive to tourists during the summer months.
In our chart, below, we look in more detail at air capacity between Dubai and Iran over the past five years. In 2014 available two-way seats in this market grew for a second successive year with a 20.3 per cent growth versus 2013. However, despite this rise capacity is still down 7.0 per cent versus 2010 due to large decline in 2011 (down 18.1 per cent) and 2012 (down 13.1 per cent).