On 19–20 May, the Ministry of Transport of the Republic [of Uzbekistan] held a meeting with representatives of the UAE aviation authorities. As a result of the meeting, the parties agreed to increase the frequency of flights. flydubai has been appointed as the main carrier on the Dubai–Tashkent route. flydubai will operate regular passenger flights six times a week between Tashkent and Dubai.
The agreement with flydubai on regular flights was reached three years ago at the negotiations of the delegation of the State Aviation Supervision Authority of Uzbekistan with the aviation authorities of the Emirate of Dubai. It was held on 08–10 December 2018. The meeting covered the following subjects: the current state and prospects for the development of air links between Uzbekistan and the UAE, flydubai’s operations to Uzbekistan and the establishment of links between the designated airlines, Uzbekistan Airways and flydubai.
Speaking to EVU, Jeyhun Efendi, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations and E-commerce at flydubai discussed the details of the mutually beneficial commercial cooperation and his vision with regards to its prospects.
F o r r e f e r e n c e: flydubai, a national carrier for Dubai, made its first flight on 01 June 2009. The airline’s route network consists of over 95 destinations across Africa, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Central and South-East Europe, the GCC and the Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent.
– What is Uzbekistan’s place in flydubai’s global network?
– flydubai launched flights to Tashkent in March 2019 and this represented a significant milestone for the airline. Uzbekistan is an important trade partner for the UAE and flydubai was the first Dubai-based carrier to offer direct flights between the two countries. We saw great demand for our services, but as we know the pandemic has had a considerable impact on travel. Today, the travel industry is picking up and together with the support of the Uzbekistan authorities we are now able to grow our operations to seven flights a week. This creates opportunities for further development of tourism and will strengthen commercial ties between our countries.
– In December 2018, flydubai received approval to operate flights between Tashkent and Dubai and started its services a little later. How popular is the route with passengers from both countries? What other results do you expect on this route after the end of the pandemic?
– flydubai had a very successful start with this route and carried more than 70,000 passengers between Tashkent and Dubai in the first year of operations. With the easing of the recent travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic the current increase in frequencies demonstrates that there remains strong demand for travel between the UAE and Uzbekistan and we remain committed to the market and see great potential to grow demand for our services even further.
– Does flydubai plan to expand its presence in Uzbekistan? Does flydubai plan to open flights to other cities of the country? What should be the potential passenger traffic of an airport so that it would be profitable for flydubai to fly there?
– We are grateful for the support we receive from the Uzbekistan Government, and we look forward to working closely with them to add more destinations in the country and our passengers from the UAE and the region will be excited to see us add more routes in Uzbekistan. We believe these flights will also be popular among travellers from Uzbekistan, which was amongst the top 20 source markets for visitors to Dubai from January to March this year.
– The stability of a company’s performance is best indicated by its operational and financial indicators, doesn’t it? How have flydubai’s results changed over 2020, with the major limitations associated with the pandemic? What has changed this year?
– 2020 was one of the toughest years in aviation history and affected us more than any other crisis. Our operations were severely impacted by the closure of international borders and the suspension of flights between March and July 2020.
We had to react and adapt quickly. We enabled the movement of essential goods across our network, dedicating 11 aircraft for cargo operations at the peak of the pandemic. We supported governments with their repatriation efforts to bring passengers back home. In readiness for the reopening of the airspace, we redesigned our customer journey and launched our passenger partnership enabling travel in a safe environment. At the end of 2020, we grew our network to 65 destinations and currently we’re operating flights to over 95 destinations.
– Statistics show that air travel is 22 times safer than travelling by car, and pilots are more trusted by the population – these are the results of recent opinion polls. However, the degree of safety of air transport depends not only on the skill of the pilots, but also on the technical condition of the aircraft. What are the aircraft in your fleet? What is the average age of the aircraft? Can you share your plans for developing your fleet?
– We place great importance on the safety of our passengers. All our aircraft are brand new and modern; the average age is 5 years and 1 month. We operate a single fleet-type of 50 Boeing 737 aircraft: 36 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800, 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 3 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft. This year we are returning our MAX aircraft to service, having met all regulatory requirements. The MAX aircraft is an integral part of our plans for developing our fleet going forward as it brings more efficiency to our operations as well as comfort to our passengers.
– As the number of budget airlines increases, they have to compete not only with traditional carriers, but also with each other. Tell our readers, what is the difference between the low-cost concept and regular flights? What are they convenient for us, passengers?
– Agility and reliability best describe our business model. flydubai has become well known for connecting previously underserved markets as well as offering direct air links to Dubai. Passengers still have the opportunity to pay for the services they need — from inflight entertainment and meals onboard to baggage allowance and extra legroom. Passengers are also able to choose between bundled (Flex/Value) or unbundled (Lite) fares depending on their travel needs. In October 2013 the airline launched Business Class offering passengers greater choice, convenience and comfort, representing a development of its business model. More flights and more choice provide great opportunity for the travel and tourism industry and general trade and commerce in the UAE and the underserved markets we serve.
– As we know, air tickets are the main item of travel expenses. In addition, various analysts have observed that in recent years the prices of air tickets are becoming more expensive on average due to the increase in prices for aviation fuel. What are your current fares and what factors impact the fares? How significant is the difference between the most expensive and most affordable fare on the same destination?
– Our fares are impacted by a combination of factors, including fuel costs, date of travel and seat availability. In addition, we offer our Economy Class passengers the ability to choose between different fare bundles depending on their travel needs and budget. These include the Value and Flex bundles. Fares from Tashkent to Dubai start at USD 380 for Economy Class and USD 1600 for Business Class. Passengers travelling in Business Class can enjoy a range of benefits including a dedicated check-in counter, lounge access, wider seats and extra legroom. Meals and inflight entertainment are also included.
– What recommendations and suggestions can you give to Uzbek tourists traveling to Dubai? And what would you say to tourists from the UAE flying to our country?
– It is important to plan your trip familiarising yourself with the travel requirements that apply to the destination you are travelling to. We recommend using both these websites IATA Travel Center and IATA destination tracker websites (both in English) to help in the planning in addition to flydubai.com which is available in Russian. We recommend booking flexible tickets and hotels as circumstances can change at the last moment. flydubai passengers, for example, can book a Flex ticket fare. Moreover, passengers flying with flydubai will automatically receive complimentary global cover for COVID-19 related costs.