“We believe in providing the basics to our passengers, which is a seat on a plane and a place for their luggage. This way we pass on the cost saving to our customers,” added Al Ghaith. It is up to the passenger whether or not he/she wants to pay for the extra costs – for example, an in-flight meal for which one has to pay along with luggage weighing more than 10kg (a 10kg piece of luggage can be checked in for free as hand baggage). Starting October, passengers will also have the option for paying for in-flight entertainment, as the carrier plans to introduce this on its aircraft, explained Al Ghaith. Since flydubai just uses one kind of aircraft for all routes – the Boeing 737-800 – it is able to keep costs low.
The idea of paying for your meal or extra baggage during air travel isn’t exactly a shot in the dark. According to Al Ghaith, preliminary research at the time of the launch showed that 44 per cent travellers to the Middle East only check in with one piece of luggage (the hand baggage as it is called). While the demand for the low-cost model on the Karachi-Dubai route is huge, figures show that only seven per cent of the total capacity in this region is being served by budget airlines, explained Al Ghaith.
“We hope that flydubai will further boost tourism relations between the two countries,” said Al Ghaith. “I feel great empathy for the people of Pakistan and I am very excited about the new route,” he added, hoping that new routes from Pakistan would be introduced soon (dependent on approval by the governments of both countries).
Meanwhile, Al Ghaith seemed reluctant to comment on PIA’s response to flydubai’s arrival in Pakistan. “All I can say is that this is a free country and people are free to do what they want. Besides that, I have no comments about the issue,” was his ambiguous response to the protest demonstrations that were taken out by PIA’s Employees Union against the inaugural flight.
Flydubai was established in March 2008. It is Dubai’s first low-cost airline and started operations on June 1, 2009. Set up by the Government of Dubai, flydubai is aimed at making travel a little less complex, a little less stressful and a little less expensive. The airline currently has a fleet of nine aircraft and operates to 20 destinations. The airline will start services to Colombo, Sri Lanka, from June 23. Mr Ghaith al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, was previously with Emirates Airlines.