Flydubai operated its inaugural flight from Dubai to Saudi Arabia’s AlUla on Wednesday, becoming the first UAE airline to offer direct services between the two destinations.
Flight FZ8031 departed from Dubai International’s Terminal 2 at 11.45am, arriving in AlUla three hours later. The aircraft was carrying senior members of the flydubai team, including Ghaith Al Ghaith, the airline's chief executive, members of The Royal Commission for AlUla and select media. On arrival, the plane was met by a traditional water cannon salute.
Melanie De Souza, executive director of destination marketing for The Royal Commission for AlUla, was on board the flight and emphasised the importance of this new route.
“It’s critical for us to have direct access to our key markets and the UAE is definitely a market of absolute strategic importance, so with flydubai’s inaugural flight, it’s a really auspicious day,” she told The National. “This also gives us access to the larger Emirates network, which connects to our key markets worldwide.”
The route will be operated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with return business class fares starting at Dh3,500 and economy class tickets starting at Dh1,050.
“We are delighted to see the first flydubai flight land in AlUla and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the authorities and the Royal Commission for AlUla for their support," said Al Ghaith. "The launch of operations to AlUla reflects our commitment to strengthening the cultural, trade and tourism ties between the UAE and Saudi Arabia and opening up new markets to more passengers.”
The destination is already proving popular with UAE travellers, said De Souza, and these additional flights offer them greater access to AlUla’s archaeological, cultural and gastronomic attractions.
“When I think of what AlUla has to offer, whether it's an amazing litany of concerts with celebrity artists, some of the fantastic, world-beating restaurants that we now host, but also some of the pop-ups and activations that we’ve had, whether it’s in the adventure space or our wellness festival, I believe we will have significant cut-through with the millennials in this market,” she said.
“In terms of the brand, we are really clear that at our heart we are a heritage destination that is of global significance. Here is a destination that is synonymous with 200,000 years of human history. And beyond the heritage, there are the arts and nature and the great outdoors.
“We’re only after two million tourists by 2035, so it’s very much about a discerning affluent audience and people that co-relate with what we have to offer.”