Dubai-owned low cost airline flydubai started flying to Sri Lanka this week. Offering only one-way air fares to Dubai at Rs. 13,000, inclusive of all taxes and airport charges, the carrier (FZ556) flies out of Katunayake International Airport on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 0210 hours Sri Lankan time. However, as per its low cost model, passengers are restricted to one piece of carry-on hand baggage weighing up to 10 kilogrammes, with additional bags check-in as well as on-board food and drink, preferred seating, etc. offered for an added cost basis only.
13-month old flydubai currently operates a fleet of nine new Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft across 21 routes, including the Middle East, Pakistan and now Sri Lanka, its 21st destination. Its inaugural inbound flight to Sri Lanka last Wednesday featured 139 passengers and crew out of the aircraft's 147 passenger and crew capacity.
According to the airline's Chief Executive, Ghaith Al Ghaith, the company had not reached profitability yet despite 13 months of operation. But they were very satisfied with the results so far. He also noted profitability for the airline was planned for only in its third year of operation. He also revealed that, while no freight services were currently being offered by the airline, freight as a business would be added when the fleet capacity increase sufficiently.
As to why Sri Lanka was chosen as the second South Asian destination, Mr. Al Ghaith indicated that this was partly due to the vast number of workers in the Middle East region from here as well as the country's increasing stature as a tourist destination to Dubai's residents. He also suggested Dubai would likewise prove a popular draw for Sri Lankan tourists.