Flydubai is to become a widebody aircraft operator with the addition of 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, the airline announced on the first day of the Dubai Air Show on Monday.
Founded by the Dubai government in 2009 as a single-aisle operator of Boeing 737 aircraft, Flydubai has primarily focused on opening up new routes to Dubai from underserved secondary markets that were too small for its bigger sister Emirates.
Flydubai now operates 80 Boeing 737 aircraft, but range limitations prevent the airline from expanding even further. Today’s widebody order answers the question of how Flydubai will grow even further and open up new routes that were previously not possible.
In short, Flydubai says it needs the 787 to increase capacity across its current network while also allowing it to fly to new, longer-range destinations.
“Today’s order reaffirms Flydubai’s commitment to enabling more people to travel across its expanding network,” explained chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum as the order was announced.
“The highly fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner will allow flydubai to expand its horizon and cater to the growing demand on existing routes,” Al Maktoum continued.
There are, however, many questions about Flydubai’s foray into widebody operations.
Although it’s often seen as a low-cost operator, Flydubai isn’t like any other kind of budget carrier. Its newest Boeing 737MAX aircraft features Business Class seats with direct aisle access, and the airline has invested a lot into the passenger experience with seatback screens at every seat and other passenger-pleasing touchpoints.
It’s this background which makes how Flydubai will configure its Dreamliners so interesting, and the airline may well choose a highly competitive Business Class that could easily compete, if not beat, the outdated Business Class seats on Emirates’ Boeing 777 fleet.
It’s also not known what routes Flydubai might use its Dreamliners on and whether the airline could start going head-to-head with Emirates. For now, unfortunately, we don’t know when Flydubai intends to start taking delivery of these widebody jets.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.