The NCEMA contingency plan, benchmarking of industry best-practice and international guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHP) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) provided the framework for flydubai’s own response plans to COVID-19. A number of working groups have been set up across the airline to support its operations for both its passengers and employees.
Statement on flydubai’s response to COVID-19
Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, said: “clearly this is an unprecedented situation for the aviation industry, and indeed the world, but flydubai is as prepared as it can be. Our operational focus may be changing in the short term but the work continues. We have reallocated internal resources to critical business needs, including the highest levels of customer support and care of our fleet, which has seen the activation of a large-scale maintenance and care programme to ensure that all our grounded aircraft are attended to at the highest international standards. We are seeing this period as an opportunity to recalibrate our business and our unrelenting focus is now on laying the groundwork, together, for a smooth full return to service in due course.”
flydubai has implemented a number of initiatives which include:
Remote working: flydubai already had established processes and procedures for remote working as the airline is based in three different offices prior to its move to its new head office building which is under construction. In line with the Government’s guidelines, its workforce has been allocated into teams who have relocated across its different offices to continue to support its operations. In addition, a number of teams are working remotely from their homes supported by a number of new initiatives and technology to aid remote working and at the same time capturing the collaborative spirit that reflects flydubai’s values.
Fleet: flydubai will be splitting its fleet, utilising its two engineering and maintenance bases at Dubai International (DXB) and Al Maktoum International (DWC). With its 14 grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, flydubai already had an extensive engineering and maintenance programme underway involving 18 hours of maintenance per aircraft per week. With the announcement of the flight restrictions, the engineering and maintenance programme is being expanded to its fleet of 42 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Cargo: flydubai operated its first all-cargo flight to Kuwait last week. A strong global demand for cargo remains and the airline is working towards expanding its cargo operations and is currently studying the opportunity of cargo in its cabin as well as in the hold of its aircraft.
Repatriations: We are fully supporting governments and authorities across the flydubai network with their repatriation efforts helping them to make arrangements for their citizens to return home.
Network: The airline has also been following the travel restrictions and advisories that have been issued by authorities around its network. Until the suspension comes into effect, flydubai will operate to the following destinations:
- Bucharest (OTP): next flight 24 March
- Kabul (KBL): next flight 24 March
- Makhachkala (MCX): next flight 24 March
- Nur-Sultan (TSE): next flight 24 March
- Vnukovo (VKO): next flight 24 March
In line with international best practices, flydubai has temporarily closed its Business Lounge in Terminal 2, Dubai International (DXB). flydubai Business Class passengers will have access to the Marhaba Lounge in Terminal 2, Dubai International.
Expert opinion, including comments on Air Arabia
Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst-StrategicAero Research, told AMEinfo:
“Given the utter demand devastation that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, following Emirates and Etihad’s decisions to halt a majority of its flights, the UAE’s other two notable airlines, flydubai and Air Arabia are now also halting flights on the instruction of the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
“NCEMA and the GCAA would not have taken these steps if they felt that they could avoid doing so. Limiting interactions seems to be the logical step in delaying the transmission and spread of the virus and so this two-week shutdown will provide a degree of breathing space, but it will hammer airlines.
“flydubai had only recently got into the black following a very turbulent year where they were unable to use their 737 MAX fleet for the best part of 2019. Now this pandemic has shaken the core of the entire industry right around the world. Equally, Air Arabia, who had somewhat capitalised on flydubai’s limited growth last year, has also seen demand hit by the effects of the virus and the restrictions imposed by many countries to which they fly and operate.
“The entire aviation industry is walking into an abyss. No one knows how deep or long this will last for, or indeed, whether these flight stoppages will just be the first of many that we see in 2020. It also calls into question the viability of Expo 2020, which kicks off in October. With no cure or resolution in sight, the only saving grace for the UAE carriers is that they are so well loved and followed, that when limitations are lifted, there will be a huge groundswell of demand that flocks to them.”
Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai, said: “our customers are always at the heart of everything we do and we fully recognise the importance of responding promptly to any questions they may have during this changing situation. Since the beginning of March, we have received more than 80,000 customer enquiries. Our Customer Engagement team is working hard to respond to this unprecedented number of enquiries that we have received. They are supported by members of staff from different teams who have been deployed to ensure that all our customers receive a reply. We thank all our customers for their patience at this time.”
- Customers who were booked to travel on a flydubai flight that has been cancelled are advised to go to the “Manage Booking” tab on flydubai.com where they will be able to request a refund to flydubai voucher or rebook.
- If further assistance is required customers can call the flydubai Contact Centre on (+971) 600 54 44 45, send an email to [email protected] with “Change my booking” in the subject line or send a private message on Facebook.
- Customers can expect a reply on social media within one week and a reply by email within 30 days.
- Customers who made their booking through a Travel Agent or Travel Partner are advised to contact them directly regarding refund and rebooking options
- Travel advisories are available on flydubai.com and are updated on a regular basis.