Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flydubai’s success reflected in UAE travel, tourism market

Dubai’s first low-cost carrier, flydubai, is playing a significant role in the UAE’s fast-growing travel and tourism sector as the airline recorded a significant increase in passenger numbers from CIS, Europe and Gulf countries in the last 14 months.

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the UAE’s GDP is expected to hit $19.9 billion this year and its set to become increasingly important as a sector in driving the country’s overall economic development.

Key to this growth has been the performance of flydubai, the world’s fastest-ever growing start-up airline ever. The airline said the remarkable growth was recorded in passenger numbers particularly from the CIS, Eastern and Central Europe and GCC markets from February 2011 to March 2012.

The airline now has 78 regular flights per week to 13 different destinations in CIS countries, Eastern and Central Europe, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Serbia, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. It is currently the only scheduled operator flying to Dubai from Belgrade, Donetsk and Kharkiv. Flydubai’s GCC network is also the largest of all Middle Eastern carriers, with 424 flights per week to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Within Saudi Arabia alone, the airline has 73 flights every week covering seven destinations. The airline is also the only scheduled operator flying from the UAE to Abha, Gassim, Taif and Yanbu. Key statistics show that there was a 284 per cent annual growth in passenger numbers from the CIS and Central Europe markets between February 2011 and March 2012, compared to the period of February 2010 and March 2011. An 89 per cent annual growth also recorded in passenger numbers from the GCC between February 2011 and March 2012, compared to the period of February 2010 and March 2011.

Speaking ahead of the region’s foremost travel and tourism event, the Arabian Travel Market 2012, which begins on 30th April, flydubai chief executive officer Ghaith Al Ghaith said: “What these latest figures illustrate is how flydubai is proving to be a pioneering force on a number of levels. Our vision three years ago was to build a unique network that not only offered real value for passengers but that also strategically opened up new markets. The resulting benefits for these destinations and the UAE are clear to see, whether that’s in terms of trade or tourism. As these latest figures prove, this vision is already being realised, but what excites us the most is that we’ve only just begun on our journey.”

In just under three years, flydubai has launched operations to more than 45 destinations across 29 countries and is now the second-largest airline operating out of Dubai Airport. Crucially, it now has the most comprehensive network of all Middle Eastern carriers to Central and Eastern Europe and has opened up new markets that previously had no direct UAE air links.

Latest figures from Dubai International Airport reveal that passenger traffic between Dubai and Russia in the first quarter of this year climbed 46.53 per cent to 359,066, compared to 245,050 during the same period in 2011.

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