Easier visa rules 'key to Dubai growth'
Dubai, May 6, 2013
Simplified visa processes and lower travel barriers will contribute to substantially increased global passenger traffic and will make Dubai an even more attractive destination for both leisure and business travellers in support of the Government’s Tourism Vision for 2020,” said a top airline official.
“Easing visa processes has supported the growth of the aviation sector throughout the UAE, over the past few years, by allowing 32 nationalities to benefit from receiving a visa on arrival. This approach has been possible due to the continued efforts of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, remarked Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, a Dubai-based budget carrier.
Flydubai, the second largest carrier by passenger numbers operating out of Dubai International, has strategically expanded its network to previously underserved markets, mostly within a five-hour radius.
This has offered passengers in these markets access to more convenient and affordable travel options and further strengthened Dubai’s position as a global trade and tourism hub.
Since its launch four years ago, flydubai has launched 57 routes including up to 32 routes that either did not previously have direct links with Dubai or were not served by an UAE national carrier from Dubai. It now travels to 33 countries spanning North and East Africa, the GCC, Middle East, Subcontinent, Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine and Central & Eastern Europe.
Overall passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport soared 13.2 per cent to 57 million in 2012, up from 50 million recorded in 2011, said Al Ghaith citing official data.
This trend is forecast to continue into this year and the first three months of 2013 have already recorded a strong start with a 15.6 per cent increase in passenger traffic compared to the same period of 2012. Dubai International is now the second busiest airport for international passenger traffic and is currently undergoing an expansion to accommodate growing passenger numbers, he noted.
Commenting on the impact of the expansion of Terminal 2 on the airline’s capacity, the flydubai chief said, "It has been home to flydubai since the airline’s inception and its ongoing expansion and refurbishment will improve services and accessibility for an increased number of passengers seeking affordable air travel to and from Dubai."
"The current expansion will more than double the terminal’s annual capacity to accommodate the growth of the airline which has serviced 5.1 million passengers in 2012 and 10.4 million passengers overall since its launch in 2009," he added.
Al Ghaith said flydubai’s proven track record had demonstrated how it had contributed to the economic growth of Dubai’s tourism and commercial sectors.
"Its ongoing plans to grow its fleet and network will support Dubai’s Vision for Tourism for 2020. The vision of the Government of Dubai is to transform the trade and tourism sector to further contribute to the growth of the emirate; the sector is expected to contribute $45 billion in revenues to the emirate’s GDP by 2020," he observed.
"This continuous commitment to developing this sector, which was marked in the provision of 16 per cent of its budget for 2013 to infrastructure projects, was a key growth factor for the airline enabling it to provide greater connectivity and accessibility to the region and surrounding destinations," he stated.
Passenger appetite for travel to Dubai has significantly increased across all destinations. The Russian, Ukrainian, Central Asia and Central & Eastern European markets have been key areas of growth, with an 89 per cent rise in the number of UAE visas facilitated by flydubai for passengers from these countries.
UAE visa applications from Ukraine, facilitated by the airline, have significantly grown by 370 per cent in 2012, a trend that is expected to continue, while Azerbaijan, Georgia, Serbia and Turkmenistan remain the largest markets for visa applications made through flydubai. Aside of these countries, Iraq and Sudan are the largest markets for visa applications on the key trading routes.
"Our growing network offers passengers the freedom to travel as frequently and as easily as ever. Travellers now have the option of crossing borders and returning home within a day, which has been a rising trend amongst the business community," Al Ghaith noted.
"Leisure travellers can also enjoy their preferred cities within our network more frequently or explore new destinations through our recently launched routes such as Malé in the Maldives, our ninth point in Saudi Arabia, Ha’il and our flights to Dushanbe in Tajikistan started just last week," he said.
"Flydubai’s excellent on-board experience and professional services have also contributed to increased demand from passengers across its network," he added.
The airline launched 14 new routes over the past quarter and intends to announce additional routes during 2013. The airline currently operates a young, modern fleet of 29 aircraft.-TradeArabia News Service