Emirates President Tim Clark has said the airline’s owners are working bring the airline together with Flydubai under one unit in plans that could bear fruit within the next 18 months.
“We are minded to accelerate a greater joining of the hip, of what we do, there’s a lot of work going on there to extract value for the shareholder,” Clark told reporters during a briefing at the Paris Air Show.
“We could do things better together than apart.”
Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed had also said during Arabian Travel Market in April that he wanted to explore more synergies with Flydubai.
The move could open up slots for Emirates, said Clark and likely delay the move to Dubai World Central, Dubai’s second airport, to “sometime between 2026 to 2030,” he added.
Closer linkages are in prospect between Dubai-based Emirates Airline and local low-cost carrier (LCC) flydubai.
“There’s no competition between us, but I think we’ve just done our own thing and I’ve thought it could have been done better if it was a little more coordinated,” Emirates president Tim Clark said in Paris June 21.
“It makes a lot more sense to work together. Flydubai has moved from its original low-cost model. It now has lounges and lie-flat beds in business class; they’ve moved more towards a full-service model. Because they’ve moved closer to us, it becomes far easier to move high-yielding passengers across, certainly between premium classes.”
The two carriers’ route maps are complementary, with Emirates’ fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s focusing on long-haul sectors (although the A380 is deployed on trunk routes as short as a hour in duration within the Gulf) while flydubai has a dense network within the Gulf and just beyond.
“You’ve got places like Alexandria, Sharm-el-Sheikh and Djibouti, destinations that we would never fly to, but they give us business, either because people want to come through Dubai [on transit] or they have business in Dubai.”
One factor that would have to be improved to allow greater cooperation between the airlines would be improvements in transport between the terminals at Dubai International Airport: “We would have to improve the bussing option between Terminal 2 into the South Terminal. That’s difficult, because the airport is so compressed. It’s difficult to move ground vehicles around.”
Even today, without formal cooperation between the carriers, “We move around 1,200 passengers a day across the two airlines. For example, they fly to places like Belgrade [and] there’s quite a lot of people from Australia, [of Serbian ancestry] going into Serbia.” Those passengers fly into Dubai from Australia on Emirates, then transfer on to flydubai.
Both airlines have the same chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who has made it clear he would like to see more cooperation between the carriers: “Sheikh Mohammed wants this to happen and when you get that ‘push’ from the shareholder, you get things done,” Clark said.