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FlyDubai CEO: Low cost market can support Etihad

'Tremendous opportunity' for growth in budget airlines, states CEO.
NEWS, Aviation

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Dubai-based low cost carrier flydubai has welcomed reports that Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways is to enter the budget sector, with the carrier’s CEO telling Arabian Business that the emirate’s market has enough potential traffic to support the increased competition.

“There is a tremendous opportunity in this region to grow the low cost market and I believe there is enough potential traffic here for all well run airlines to be successful,” Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, told Arabian Business.

“Increasing competition is good for everyone, especially the consumer. Etihad is a very good airline and is very important to the growth of aviation in this region. We wish them good luck with their new venture and are sure they will be successful,” he added.

On Thursday, Etihad CEO James Hogan told Arabian Business that it would launch two economy class only aircraft from October.

Two Airbus A320 planes will be reconfigured to carry a total of 162 passengers, an increase of 42 economy seats on the normal configuration.

Destinations for the low cost flights will include Doha, Alexandria, Egypt; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Damascus, Syria; Calicut, India and Thiruvananthapuram, also in India.

Hogan said in an interview: "The launch of the all economy class aircraft is the beginning of a new era for Etihad."

Plans are in place to expand the all economy fleet to ten aircraft, which will enable the airline to launch new short haul destinations which have low demand for premium travel, the airline added in a statement.

Low cost airline flydubai, which launched just over a year ago, has seen over one million passenger bookings to date, and has a route network of 22 destinations.

It has a fleet of nine Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and has operated almost 8,000 flights with 85 percent of those departing on time.

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