(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Flydubai on Saturday termed 2012 as a remarkable year in terms of growth in passenger numbers and opening new destinations and it expects the same process will continue in 2013, airline's chief executive officer Ghaith Al Ghaith said ahead of its inaugural flight to Male, the capital of Maldives.
Al Ghaith mentioned that the carrier is planning to open at least five new destinations during the year and continue to increase frequencies on existing routes. The airline already operates 52 destinations, he added.
"The low-cost carrier recorded 285 per cent growth in passenger numbers from the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) plus the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) markets, and 65 per cent growth generated from GCC routes in 2012," Al Ghaith told reporters at a news conference.
The latest figures from Dubai International Airport reveal that passenger traffic from the CIS and Russia increased by 34 per cent in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, in large part due to flydubai's on-going expansion in this region.
Al Ghaith was joined by Laila Suhail, chief executive officer, Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE) and Hamad bin Mejren, executive director, Business Tourism, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Anita Mehra, vice-president-Marketing & Corporate Communications, Dubai Airports.
Anita Mehra said: "Flydubai's growth, particularly within Russia and the CIS, has provided a tremendous boost to passenger traffic through linking Dubai to many cities in this region for the first time."
DEPE's Laila Suhail said: "Dubai has established itself as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, offering visitors a variety of attractions and experiences including shopping offers, family entertainment, cultural events, international sport tournaments, music festivals, and much more."
DTCM's Mejren said: "Flydubai has been vital in helping promote tourism in Dubai, especially in key areas such as the CIS, CEE and the GCC markets. Tourist numbers from these areas grow each year; a fact that is undoubtedly driven by growth in airline connectivity."
He mentioned that flydubai and Dubai Airports have made DTCM job easy. There are 88,000 hotel and hotel apartment rooms in Dubai and expected to add more than 16,000 keys in two years, he added.
Al Ghaith, commenting on the new flight, said: "Commencing today, the new Male route will attract passengers from across the flydubai network, in particular those from the CIS, CEE and GCC."
More than 40 per cent of flydubai's route development in 2012 concentrated on CEE and CIS cementing the airline's commitment to expansion and connectivity.
The airline now operates to 16 destinations in the region including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. Flydubai's GCC network is also the largest of all Middle Eastern carriers, with 265 flights per week to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.