Dubai seeks aircraft for upcoming budget airline


Dubai – Dubai is holding talks with both Airbus and Boeing to buy planes for the proposed budget airline that Emirates is involved in setting up, said Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group.

He did not say how many planes the new airline will be acquiring.

The budget carrier is expected to start operating within one year and will serve destinations within four and half hours of flying distance from Dubai.

“We are talking to both Airbus and Boeing to decide on what type of aircraft we are going to have and what will be available in one year’s time from now,” Shaikh Ahmad told reporters.

Airbus Middle East President Habib Fekih told Gulf News the new airline could buy between 50 and 70 aircraft in the next five years.

“That is my expectation,” he said.

The Dubai government announced last month a new company will be formed to operate the low-cost airline with its own brand and identity. Shaikh Ahmad is the chairman of the new airline and Gaith Al Gaith, executive vice-president commercial operations at Emirates, its chief executive.

The budget carrier will be supported by Emirates during the set-up period, but it will not be part of the Emirates Group.

Shaikh Ahmad said the new airline will not affect the ongoing expansion of Emirates or take its market share.

He said Emirates has continued growing despite the entry of carriers such as Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.

“The market is there that will sustain this growth,” Shaikh Ahmad said.

Emirates will acquire 247 new aircraft over the next few years to serve its growing route network.

Asked if Emirates would have any operations at the upcoming mega airport in Jebel Ali, Shaikh Ahmad said the current policy is to operate from existing base.

“We can operate in two airports but the policy is to stick to one airport,” he said.