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Heading Down Under – flydubai plans to commence services to Australia with 787s 

With Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad already serving Australian cities extensively, flydubai believes that there is room for one more carrier operating services between the Middle East and ‘The Land Down Under’. 

flydubai, the low-cost sister airline of Dubai-based mega carrier Emirates, is planning to serve an as yet undisclosed number of Australian cities when it begins to take delivery of its new fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners that it currently has on order. The company ordered 30 787-9 Dreamliners at the Dubai Airshow in November 2023, with deliveries due to commence in 2026. 

With the new widebodies entering the fleet, the long-haul capabilities of the new 787s will allow flydubai to fly further afield than its currently exclusive fleet of Boeing 737s will permit. While the airline already pushes its 737 MAX 8s to the full limits of its range by serving destinations such as Pattaya in Thailand, Penang in Malaysia, and Zurich in Switzerland, the new twin-aisle planes will enable flydubai to stretch its route network even further, opening up a new set of potential destinations to the airline.  

Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market event held in Dubai between May 6 and May 9, 2024, flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith set out his outline plans for the 787s when they arrive in the flydubai fleet. 

“The main goal of the Boeing 787 will be to fly us farther and into new markets,” he said. “I think of London in Europe and Bangkok Thailand. Maybe also to Australia, which the Dreamliners will enable us to achieve with their exceptional range.”  


Although flydubai positions itself as a low-cost carrier, it does not strictly follow the same model as other budget airlines. It currently offers a business class cabin in the front of its 737 fleet which offers passengers either reclining seats in a 2-2 configuration for short to medium-range flights or flatbeds on its medium to long-range services.  

The carrier also uses the Emirates Skywards loyalty program and codeshares on Emirates flights, offering its customers the added benefits of being part of the Emirates family. 

Interestingly, at the same event, Al Ghaith mentioned the possibility of flydubai introducing a premium economy cabin on its flights for the first time when the 787s begin to arrive.  

Al Ghaith commented that the Flydubai 787s would “very likely” include “a premium economy cabin” – a move that would increase the alignment with Emirates which introduced its own premium economy product on its flights in 2023.  

Although Al Ghaith appeared to talk up his plans for the new 787 fleet, his comments did strike a note of caution. Given the delivery delays being faced by Boeing customers currently, he noted that the first 787 deliveries may slip and miss the 2026 entry-into-service target date.  

“We are not sure if Boeing can meet the 2026 deadline, given the delays it is experiencing in deliveries,” he added. 

A competitive arena  

Whenever services do start, it will be interesting to see where flydubai sends its new fleet. If they do reach as far east as Australia, then they will provide additional capacity in the heavily served Middle East to Australia market – a market that is also expected to see the arrival of Saudi Arabian newcomer Riyadh Air enter the fray sometime in 2025. 

Markus Mainka / Shutterstock

flydubai currently operates a fleet of 86 Boeing 737 aircraft which includes 29 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800s, 54 737 MAX 8s, and three 737 MAX 9 aircraft. Additionally, the airline has an order backlog of more than 130 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to be delivered by 2035.  

Since 2008 when it placed its first order with Boeing, the carrier has built a network of more than 120 destinations in 54 countries spanning from Europe to South-East Asia. 

The post Heading Down Under – flydubai plans to commence services to Australia with 787s  appeared first on AeroTime.

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