Hoping to fly high
Ghaith Al Ghaith, the CEO of Dubai’s first low-cost airline FlyDubai refuses to share details about the carrier’s India route, but insists the airline’s plans are on track.
August 27, 2009 1:50 by Aarti Nagraj
Dubai’s new low-cost carrier started operations in June this year, and according to Ghaith Al Ghaith, FlyDubai’s CEO, it has been doing very well so far. It has had teething problems: its planned routes to India had to be postponed due to “operational reasons,” and Al Ghaith is unable to confirm when the issues will resolve.
Kipp: You have had to postpone your routes to India. According to Indian media reports, you have been denied permission to fly because of competition from government-owned Air India Express. Can you confirm or deny the news?
Al Ghaith: I would love to talk about it because India is very important for us. But only at the right time. There is now nothing to talk about.
For now we have told [the media] we are delaying India until further notice. We will [tell you] about exactly why and how, when we talk about it.
Kipp: Talking about low-cost airlines, do you think it’s profitable to have more than one in a small region like the Middle East?
Al Ghaith: Of course, 100 percent. Because you see low- cost carriers only represents 5 percent of the actual traffic capacity or airlines in the region. In Europe, budget airlines represent 20 percent of the market. So I’m sure there is scope. In Europe and America they are even talking about 50 percent of the capacity.
So I think more low- cost airlines [will be introduced], and it’s good for the business.
Kipp: But up to what point is it sustainable to have more airlines?
Al Ghaith: I think our need as people are always changing. People travel more now because of changing needs. The population is growing; there are more places to go to, tourism is becoming more important- there is more need to travel. And I think, like anything in life, everything moves on and evolves.
In the future, there will be new airlines, there will be other airlines that will shrink, and we saw that in our region. Maybe some other airlines even go out of business. Not everything stays the same.
But you cannot stop from doing new things by thinking that there is somebody ahead of me. If that somebody ahead of you has a heart attack and dies, somebody has to be ready to take their place. Things evolve, and I don’t think we should be worried. As long as there is enough evidence that there is a need for a service or product to be introduced, we should do it. And it’s a free for all. The people who are successful will continue to be there.
August 27, 2009 | Cover Story