Flydubai carries 70 million passengers in first decade of operations

Carrier's mandate is to make travel more accessible to travellers from the UAE

The first of flydubai's 50 Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft sits on the tarmac at Dubai airport on May 18, 2009. The Emirati low-cost carrier will operate its debut flight to Beirut on June 1, followed by Amman the next day, with Damascus and Alexandria, Egypt on it's list of destinations. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB

Dubai-based Flydubai served more than 70 million passengers since its first flight in 2009, and the low-cost carrier’s operations will pick up once Boeing’s 737 Max jet is cleared to fly by regulators and the manufacturer.

“For many years the Government of Dubai recognised the need for another carrier to serve our country [other than sister long-haul airline Emirates], so Flydubai was launched with a mandate to open new markets and make travel more accessible to more people,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Flydubai, in a statement on Sunday.

“I am happy to see Flydubai deliver on that commitment, which has seen the airline connect 71 previously under-served cities to Dubai, giving a population of 1.5 billion people easier access to one of the world’s aviation hubs.”

Flydubai's business model has allowed the airline to harness revenue that regional competitors cannot afford, while enabling its customers to reach places that were not accessible from Dubai before by expanding into Eastern Europe, Russia and across Africa, Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at aviation consultancy StrategicAero Research, said in a statement to The National.

“Once the Boeing 737 Max is back in service later this year, Flydubai’s expansion strategy will really boom – and with the city of Dubai remaining the true global nexus for travel, the airline is exceptionally well placed to expand like never before,” said Mr Ahmad.

Flydubai grounded its fleet of 14 737 Max jets following directives from the UAE aviation regulator in March. The entire global fleet of Maxs has been grounded following two fatal crashes within the space of five months, prompting investigations into system malfunctions related to the jet.

The narrowbody aircraft is the workhorse of airlines, especially low-cost carriers such as Flydubai, and Flydubai in April joined carriers such as Norwegian Air in demanding compensation from Boeing.

“The next ten years for Flydubai will be just as important as the previous,” said Mr Ahmad.

Ten years ago on Saturday, Flydubai’s first flight took off from Dubai International Airport bound for Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport.

To celebrate the anniversary, Flydubai operated a special flight from DXB on June 1, 2019, and was met with a celebratory water cannon salute on arrival in Beirut.