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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
Kipp: Do you think with the rise of low-cost airlines, the element of uniqueness that was associated with a flight experience will diminish?
Al Ghaith: I think travel was ab experience that people used to marvel about, but people have changed now. The whole world is one big village. People from different races, from different countries live in different places and they communicate with people all over the world. So the movement of people, the communication, has meant that people have to travel more.
Now if people have to travel more, and they have to pay the kind of cost for the luxury you talk about, they can’t afford it. For more people to travel more often, you have to make it less costly. I remember sometime ago, you used to travel only once a year. Now you travel four times a month.
Kipp: Emirates Airlines may not be your direct competitor. But aren’t you stealing customers from them?
Al Ghaith: We are targeting passengers who have different needs. The need to pay less, to travel with less complications: you know they don’t have to have food, they don’t need bags, so the passenger that we are targeting have different needs. So as long as you have the need to buy what I am offering you, you will buy it. So Emirates is offering first class, full service, television, and so on. If the passenger wants that, they are going to go for that.
If there is a low cost passenger, and then he earns some money and one day he wants to celebrate his life achievements or something, or he wants to go first class, he’s is not going to travel with FlyDubai.
Same thing, if someone is used to traveling first or business class, if I can offer them something very simple and affordable, they will travel three, four, five times with us.
Kipp: Recent investigations by some British newspapers found low-cost airlines to be more expensive than regular ones. Can you expect something similar in the region?
Al Ghaith: If somebody says travels with low-cost airline and eats five or six sandwiches and checks in two bags, then theoretically, with all the costs together, it might be possible that one day, the fare will be more. But that cannot be confirmed because it’s up to the passenger to choose.
But with regular airlines you have to pay for services and then choose not to use them. With FlyDubai, you choose to have it. And as long as it’s your choice, it’s a matter of supply and demand.
August 27, 2009 | Cover Story