flydubai Cargo off to a strong start
flydubai, which came into the world as a low-cost carrier in June 2009, launched a cargo division January 1, and in the first few weeks of operation, flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said he has been pleased with the venture's performance. He called the new services a natural step in the evolution of flydubai, but he also acknowledged that it isn't very common for a low-cost airline to field its own cargo services.
"We are only two weeks into operation, so it is very early to give figures, but we have seen a number of commodities in demand, including fruit and vegetables, automobile parts and mobile-phone accessories. We have received a number of requests since the service went live, with Baku, Ashgabat and Djibouti among the top cargo importers on our network," he wrote in an email to Air Cargo World. "We are pleased with the data so far and are confident the division will contribute to flydubai’s continued growth throughout 2012."
According to a press release, flydubai Cargo is expected to eventually carry close to 1,500 tonnes of cargo each month in the belly of Boeing 737-800 NG planes.
Officials predict that more than half of this cargo will be transit freight. These shipments will allegedly be a paperless affair, putting the cargo operation in line with the International Air Transport Association's e-freight initiatives.
Al Ghaith readily admits that flydubai Cargo is still a relatively small operation compared to those of other airlines with belly-hold cargo divisions, but he said he looks forward to slowly growing the cargo business and supporting "social and economic development in each region we serve."
In addition to further establishing the new program this year, Al Ghaith said the cargo division will benefit from planned passenger-route expansions. New flights to Baghdad and Najaf, Iraq; Taif, Saudi Arabia; and Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, are all planned to launch this month.
"We will be able to offer cargo services to an increasing number of destinations," he said, "some of which did not previously have direct access to Dubai."
Al Ghaith added that additional services will likely be announced in the coming months and that he looks forward to an exciting 2012.