New East Africa destinations give boost to FlyDubai’s financial results


(Posted 04th March 2015)

When FlyDubai yesterday announced their annual results of the financial year ended on 31st December 2014, did Africa feature highly on the score card.

14% increase in passenger numbers between 2013 and 2014 in Africa

• 100% increase in number of routes in Africa

• Schedule increased to 63 flights a week across 12 points in North and East Africa

The airline’s network across its geographic focus grew by the number of routes in Africa (100%), in Central Asia (66%), Europe including Russia (40%), the GCC (7%), Middle East (30%) and in the Subcontinent (38%) which means flydubai offers one of the most comprehensive networks out of the Gulf region.

The airline’s executives emphasized that having recognised the potential of the emerging markets in North and East Africa they increased services to 63 flights a week across 12 destinations.

Notably have the flights which started to key regional economic hubs like Moscow further helped to strengthen trade and tourism opportunities with the UAE and onwards to Africa.

The airline’s CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith reflected on the results of last year when he said: ‘2014 saw flydubai open up a record number of new routes in what was a demanding year. To have achieved what we have achieved is significant. The continued investment in our people and operations has strengthened our business and ensures that we are well positioned for sustained growth in the future. It is good to see that more passengers than ever before are travelling with us’.

He then went on to highlight key elements of the company’s performance and preview on fleet developments for 2015 and beyond.

Operational Performance

Passenger numbers: showing growing demand for its services from its passengers across its network, flydubai carried 7.25 million passengers in 2014 and has carried 24.3 million since it launched its operations. It saw an increase in passenger numbers between 2013 and 2014 in Africa (14%), Central Asia (57%), Europe (11%) and the Subcontinent (11%).

Aircraft deliveries: All aircraft delivered since August 2013 have been configured with Business Class. flydubai took delivery of eight new Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft and ended the year with a fleet of 43 aircraft.

In October, it completed to schedule its rolling retrofit programme to configure the existing aircraft in its fleet with Business Class. The first seven aircraft it received between 2009 and 2010 were not part of the retrofit programme.

Business Class: flydubai ended the year with 70% of its routes offering Business Class. During the course of the year ahead, it will announce the remaining routes to receive this service and together with the successful completion of the 12-month retrofit programme flydubai will be able to offer a consistent product for its passengers across its network. It also enhanced the business class offering on the ground with the opening of the flydubai Business Lounge at Terminal 2, Dubai International.

Results from the onboard survey and 35 customer touch point measures have shown that 99% of Business Class passengers would fly again and 93% would recommend flydubai. In line with the strategy that led to the launch of Business Class 38% of passengers chose flydubai due to the direct air link. The reason for travel was 37% for business and 39% for leisure with 39% of Business Class passengers being repeat flyers.

Terminal 2, Dubai International: The extension and refurbishment of Terminal 2 has provided a better customer experience. To further enhance the convenience of the airport 15 self-service kiosks have been opened for all passengers travelling to the routes that allow this facility.

Al Maktoum International: the 80-day period of the runway enhancement project between May and July at Dubai International saw flydubai operate a number of flights from this airport ensuring additional capacity for its passengers during this period. With the successful completion of the project all of flydubai’s operations resumed from Terminal 2, Dubai International on schedule.

Staff numbers: flydubai continued to strengthen its experienced team increasing the number of staff to 2,883 including 571 pilots, 1,235 cabin crew and 221 engineers representing more than 111 nationalities across flydubai’s workforce.

Awards: flydubai received a number of Awards during the year recognising its easy to use, technically advanced inflight entertainment system, the achievement of its Cargo division to introduce electronic Air Waybills (e-AWB) across its operations, two Awards for the debut Sukuk issuance as well as the recognition for excellence in its sector by CAPA, the Centre for Aviation.

CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith, while commenting on flydubai’s operational performance said, ‘The changing economic landscape not only makes demands on the business but also provides us with opportunities. Achieving a balance as a result of the speed with which we are able to respond to the changing global economic environment is reflected in our operational performance as we are well set to create a network of more than 100 destinations. It is important for us to continue to recognise this global rebalancing as we grow our fleet, expand our network and evolve our business model’.

Outlook for 2015

2015 will continue to be a demanding year due to the global socio-economic landscape. flydubai will see the remaining aircraft from its 2008 order delivered. As in 2014, flydubai launched its first new service of the year to Saudi Arabia. This saw the first international flight land at Nejran on 10 January and became flydubai’s 12th point in Saudi Arabia. In March, a three times a week service to Chennai in India will start.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, commenting on the outlook for flydubai in closing then said: ‘We will end 2015 with a fleet of 50 aircraft. Together with the new route launches this is an endorsement of the strategy we set out at the beginning and underlines the achievements of the past six years. I’m grateful to the team at flydubai for helping us to ensure that we are well positioned for sustained growth in the years ahead as we start to prepare for the new deliveries in 2016 and the first deliveries of the 737 MAX 8s in 2017 bringing further efficiency to our fleet’.

The airline, between October and November last year, launched a total of 6 additional destinations in Eastern Africa after already serving Juba for over a year previously. The first round of new destinations saw daily flights being added between Dubai and Entebbe while Bujumbura and Kigali are presently getting two and three flights per week respectively as a continuation of the Entebbe service.

The second round of roll out saw the launch of daily flights from Dubai to Dar es Salaam, again with some services routing into Dar via Kilimanjaro while others continue from Dar to Zanzibar. As a result of some spectacularly low launch fares did the airline quickly carve out a niche of market share from these destinations to Dubai and beyond while in turn more tourists were able to travel to these destinations.

Questions have however already been raised over the future of Bujumbura where the government, effective 01st of March, has introduced new Visa regulations which have been largely seen as counterproductive and an impediment to attracting more visitors to Burundi as few of the FlyDubai destinations actually have a Burundian Embassy where potential visitors could get a Visa in advance.

Watch this space for regular and breaking aviation news from across the Eastern African region.

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