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Where Could Flydubai Send its Dreamliners

The airline is gearing up to begin operations with its first widebody aircraft.

A mockup of Flydubai’s 787 Dreamliner (Photo: Boeing)

During the recent Dubai Airshow, Flydubai announced a historic order for 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. The type will be the first-ever widebody jet in the carrier’s fleet.

A Dense Short Haul Network

Flydubai operates to many destinations across its home market of the Middle East as well as a wide portfolio of European, African, and Asian routes. The longest routes in the airline’s network are Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk up north with around an over six-hour flight time and Penang and Pattaya with over seven hours of blocked flight time.

Flydubai current network according to flightconnections.com (Photo: flightconnections.com)

How Much Farther Will the Dreamliners Go?

Boeing publishes official technical specs for its 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliner on the company’s website. The MAX 8 variant of the 737 is the prominent one in Flydubai’s network. Its catalog range is 3,500 nautical miles (or 6480 km). The newly ordered 787-9 variant of the Dreamliner has a range of more than double that with 7,565 nm (or 14,010 km).

The Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs in short, provide the data that is measured or technically obtainable but only in the ideal or set conditions. This doesn’t take into account the full impact of equipping the plane for actual passenger service, any cargo weight taken by the aircraft, or the weather conditions that could include winds of more than 300 km/h in extreme cases.

Moreover, the maximum range of the airliner is most probably not the most efficient one when it comes to the operating cost. This is due to the phenomenon that, in order to fly farther, the airliner needs to carry more fuel, which in turn increases the carried weight and decreases the maximum range. To estimate the effective range of an airliner in the working conditions it is safe to assume roughly 80% of the catalog value.

Estimated effective range of 737 MAX 8 (first circle) and 787-9 Dreamliner (second circle) around Flydubai’s hub at Dubai International Airport (Photo: Great Circle Mapper)

Destinations to Consider

The new addition to the fleet will be useful for Flydubai in two main ways. The primary is taking advantage of the extra range. The low-cost offering of Flydubai could be extended to markets that are price-sensitive and less service-oriented or even give the Emirates-Flydubai duo the additional price point in more competitive markets. Some of the staple examples for the network expansions could be the leisure destinations of East Asia such as Singapore, Jakarta, and Denpasar.

At the same time, the low-cost price point could be well utilized in operating to many destinations in Western Europe, the U.K., France and others, the same way they currently operate to Poland, where Emirates operates only to the country’s main airport of Warsaw-Chopin and Flydubai is operating both Warsaw-Chopin as well as secondary cities of Krakow and Poznan. It would also be much easier for the group to tap into African markets as the continent would be in range in its entirety.

One less obvious is providing more capacity in services to the airports that are limited in terms of take-off and landing slots. When comparing the current configuration of Flydubai’s 737 MAX 8 with 174 seats to the current configuration of a low-cost carrier’s 787-9, it is possible to see a whopping 115% increase in the number of seats offered.

Both approaches to the expansion of the Flydubai capabilities are equally exciting. It is going to be excruciating to wait for this to play out, but hopefully, the carrier will not wait till the delivery date before announcing their upcoming network expansion plans.

 

Filip Kopeć

Author

  • Filip Kopeć

    A passionate aviation enthusiast that started off his career as an aerospace engineer, but found his true calling on the commercial side of the airline business. Now as a finance guy among avgeeks and an avgeek among finance guys, he has experience working in the Revenue Divisions of three airlines. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, but admittedly sometimes is more about the journey than the destination.

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