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flydubai settles choice for codesharing terminal with Emirates

In its first aircraft order since 2013 for 75 737 MAXs, low-cost carrier flydubai makes an aircraft purchasing move that will put it on firmer ground alongside Emirates Airlines. It also seems that the dust has settled on the choice of terminals from which the aircraft could fly, which smoothes operations on its codesharing arrangement with co-owned Emirates.

flydubai placed a Boeing order at the Dubai Airshow for a 175 aircraft 225-single-aisle 737 MAX jets and an option for 50 additional jets worth $27 billion, for a delivery between 2019 and 2029.

The mix comprises 737 Max 8, Max 9 and 10 models.

Read: Time to say goodbye to Emirates Airlines’ Airbus A380

Emirates recently announced a commitment for 40 Boeing 787-10s in a deal worth $15bn.

“flydubai’s selection of the 737 MAX family is no surprise. As the biggest 737 operator in the GCC, it made perfect sense to stay with the 737 MAX to expand its leadership in tandem with its ever-growing relationship with Emirates,” Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst, StrategicAero Research, told AMEinfo.

Size matters

Said Ahmad: “The size of the order for 225 airplanes, including the new 737-9 which is in flight testing and the newly launched 737-10, underscores flydubai’s intent to expand its operations in preparation for a planned move to Terminal 3 at Dubai International to sit with Emirates, ahead their joint move to Dubai World Central later on.”

He explains that by avoiding taking Airbus, flydubai gets to keep a common fleet, that training and procurement costs are lower and that the economies of scale that it will generate will ultimately aid the airline’s drive to lower costs and become more aggressive on pricing.

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“And in particular, the selection of the 737 MAX 10, which can seat over 230 passengers, will provide an excellent fit under Emirates’ recently selected 787-9s. So from a capacity standpoint, flydubai also dispenses with the need to procure widebody airplanes of its own.”

On the low-cost competition in GCC skies and beyond, Ahmad said the reason why low cost airline Air Arabia didn’t order new airplanes to the magnitude that flydubai has means that they are either hitting the buffers on organic growth or that they aren’t entirely won over by the competing A320neo family.

Air Arabia, the only listed airline in the region’s low-cost carriers and the most actively traded in the Dubai Index, has placed an order for six new Airbus A321 NEOS, on day 2 of the Dubai Air Show.

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GE Aviation will provide flydubai with an Intelligent Network software for efficient recovery of disruptions across the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft.

“Airline disruptions occur every day, but it’s how you handle them that sets you apart,” said John Mansfield, Vice President & Chief Digital Officer for GE Aviation. “Intelligent Network software as a service gives flydubai the real-time tools to predict the impact of operational disruptions, to optimize recovery back to normal operations and to minimize the effect on their passengers.”

“Intelligent Network provides a clear snapshot of the changes in our daily operations when it comes to any possible disruptions. Understanding the total impact to our passengers and our operation is of supreme importance,” said Ken Gile, Chief Operating Officer of flydubai.

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Gulf Air on the Airbus bandwagon

The Kingdom of Bahrain’s national carrier  Gulf Air and CFM International have signed an agreement for the purchase of 58 LEAP-1A engines to power 17 Airbus A321neo, 12 A320neo aircraft and an additional seven spare engines to support the operation.

The firm engine order is valued at approximately $1.9bn.

Gulf Air currently operates a fleet of 16 Airbus A320ceo aircraft, powered by CFM56-5B engines. Going forward, the airline will welcome 17 Airbus A321neo and 12 A320neo aircraft alongside ten Boeing wide-body aircraft.