Flydubai plots profitable growth as fleet doubles by 2016

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Flydubai is set to double in size over the next four years as it completes deliveries of its original 50-aircraft Boeing 737-800 order. The airline, which aims to become profitable this year, is focusing on expanding in its local markets within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) area and increasing services to Russia and eastern Europe.

The three-year-old Dubai-based low-cost carrier has 24 737-800s in service and will have 28 by year-end. "The remaining 22 aircraft will be delivered by 2016, which means our fleet will double over four years," says chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith.

Speaking to Flightglobal at the World Low Cost Airlines Congress in London, Al Ghaith said that Flydubai now serves "over 50" destinations from its Dubai hub. "Last year our passenger numbers grew 80% and this year it will grow another 50%," he said. "And this year will be the year we make [our first] profits."

The airline's network growth has been driven by establishing multi-frequency services to points within the GCC - including Saudi Arabia - and an increasing number of flights to Russia and Eastern Europe. "Inter-Gulf tourism has seen a leap in growth," says Al Ghaith.

Flydubai now serves "at least 14 points in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, all the way from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan all the way to Belgrade" and will add two more destinations this year in Romania and Macedonia, he adds.

The key markets Flydubai has yet to crack are India and Iran, with plans hampered by aero-political issues. "We don't fly to Iran at all, and India represents very little of our operation," says Al Ghaith. "We had an agreement signed with Iran but it wasn't implemented so we have to wait for that or for a new agreement.

"In India there are fantastic opportunities as there are lots of smaller airports that are not at capacity. When the Indian government decides to open up this market, we'll take advantage of them," he says.