Inside flydubai’s Extensive European Network

flydubai has an extensive European network. This summer, some 34 destinations are bookable, including those in European Russia and the Caucasian countries of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Some readers may balk at these being included. If that’s the case, removing Caucasian countries still yields some 30 destinations across Europe.

flydubai MAX 8
flydubai serves 34 destinations across Europe this summer; Tbilisi has the most capacity. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia.

Up from 26 destinations pre-pandemic

These 34 destinations are up from 26 in pre-pandemic summer 2019 (S19), analyzing schedules submitted by the carrier to data experts OAG shows. flydubai has especially expanded across European Russia while introducing two seasonal services to the Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos.

flydubai's European network summer 2021
This is flydubai’s European network this summer. Only three airports also see Emirates. Image: GCMap.

Where else has been added?

Various other destinations are being served this summer that weren’t in S19, such as Batumi, Budapest, Ljubljana, Minsk, Salzburg, Tirana, and Warsaw. In contrast, some are no longer operating, notably Bratislava, Dubrovnik, Skopje, and Sochi. However, all but Dubrovnik (obviously a very summer destination) will return this winter.

flydubai B737-800
flydubai uses B737-800s and B737 MAX 8s and 9s. This aircraft, A6-FEO, was delivered in July 2014 and has 172 seats, including 12 lie-flat business seats. Photo: Getty Images

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Doing what Emirates can’t

flydubai exists in its own right but also as a partner of Emirates. Indeed, the pair are growing increasingly close by developing extensive codeshares, using the same frequent flyer program, aligning schedules, optimizing networks, and focusing on reducing connection times.

This closeness is likely only to continue because flydubai has what Emirates doesn’t: narrowbodies. These help to add many new destinations, so growing connectivity, competitiveness, and overall dominance. For example, flydubai serves the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, a destination that is heavily served by Qatar Airways’ A320s on a one-stop basis.

flydubai's Dubai banks
These are flydubai’s arrival/departure banks at Dubai. The largest ones broadly correspond to Emirates’, showing how thinner destinations are timed to feed its big brother. Image: OAG Bank Structure.

Where do flydubai and Emirates both serve?

Of flydubai’s 34 European destinations, Emirates has its own metal on only three: Budapest; Prague; and Warsaw. The airlines aren’t really competing but rather coordinated to complement each other to offer more choice.

This is either through operating on different days (which enables a greater schedule) or, if operating on the same days, timed to be fed by, and to feed, different arrivals/departures banks at Dubai.

flydubai begins Dubai to Salzburg
flydubai inaugurated Salzburg on July 15th. At 2,773 miles, it is the carrier’s third-longest route to Europe, after Helsinki (2,819 miles) and Prague (2,776). Salzburg is operated four-weekly using the 166-seat Boeing 737 MAX 8, which features 10 lie-flat business seats. Photo: Salzburg Airport.

flydubai from Sarajevo

flydubai launched Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2014. It typically operates 14-weekly, although this does vary. In S21, Sarajevo is the carrier’s second-largest market in Central/Eastern Europe after Kyiv.

flydubai to Sarajevo
When writing this article, A6-MAX (the airline’s first MAX 8) is en route from Dubai to Sarajevo as FZ761. This flight has a scheduled departure time from Dubai of 09:15 and it arrives home at 21:45. Image:

Looking back to 2019, it is estimated that flydubai had approximately 71,000 round-trip point-to-point passengers traveling only to/from Dubai, according to booking data obtained via OAG Traffic Analyzer. Additionally, around 37,000 connected over Dubai, particularly to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, hence why FlyBosnia was keen to penetrate that market.

What are your thoughts on flydubai? Where would you like to see them serve in Europe? Let us know in the comments.