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Boeing’s ‘negative issues’ are top concern for FlyDubai CEO

A FlyDubai Boeing 737 Max. The airline's CEO says Boeing is 'fantastic' but he has sent inspectors to the manufacturer's facilities FlyDubai
A FlyDubai Boeing 737 Max. The airline's CEO says Boeing is 'fantastic' but he has sent inspectors to the manufacturer's facilities
  • Safety concerns around Boeing planes
  • FlyDubai has 86 Boeing aircraft
  • ‘Nothing alarming’ about Gaza conflict

Escalating regional tensions and recent floods in Dubai have “not especially” affected FlyDubai’s operations, but the low-cost airline’s chief executive said he was closely monitoring US plane maker Boeing’s response to a string of safety scandals. 

“We are definitely very concerned about the delays and all the negative issues that are in the pipeline or in the media,” CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith told reporters on Monday, on the first day of the Arabian Travel Market conference in Dubai. 

Al Ghaith said he had sent multiple teams to inspect Boeing’s plants in the US as well as its suppliers’ facilities and that he appreciates the plane maker working “very hard to regain the trust” of its customers, including his airline.

FlyDubai’s fleet includes 86 Boeing 737 aircraft, including two new ones acquired this year.

The 737 Max, of which Flydubai operates nearly 60, has suffered several setbacks in recent years, including two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. 

Safety concerns have extended to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner after non-fatal incidents, whistleblower revelations and a subsequent media storm that has contributed to the announcement that Boeing’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun, will resign his post at the end of this year.

In November, FlyDubai announced the purchase of 30 787-9 Dreamliners.

FlyDubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith says 'Boeing happens to be part of our interests'FlyDubai
FlyDubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith says ‘Boeing happens to be part of our interests’

Al Ghaith said he remained pleased overall with the partnership with Boeing, which he called a “fantastic” company, but his job was to look after FlyDubai’s future.

“We are sticking to our interests and Boeing happens to be part of our interests,” he said, adding that FlyDubai also “always talks to Airbus.”

“We are always open-minded to discuss and find opportunities,” Al Ghaith said. “In aviation, the more competitors you have the better.”

Al Ghaith said that the war in Gaza and mounting tensions between Israel and Iran had not affected FlyDubai’s overall performance numbers.

“Nothing came across my attention that might be alarming,” he said on Monday.

FlyDubai flew nearly 5 million people in the first four months of 2024, a 13 percent increase on the same period last year. It also opened up five new routes: Al Jouf, Langkawi, Mombasa, Penang and the Red Sea.

That brings its total offering to 125 destinations in 58 countries. The airline plans to begin flying to Basel, Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius in the coming months.

Flydubai shut down operations for 24 hours when heavy rainfall hampered air traffic and flooded Dubai International airport’s runways last month. 

Al Ghaith said on Monday that two thirds of passengers slated to fly with his carrier in that timeframe rebooked themselves on FlyDubai, and the other third received refunds. 

The flooding did not damage the carrier’s planes and the airport’s infrastructure held up well given the conditions, he said. Diversions, cancellations and delays primarily stemmed from air traffic control spacing out takeoffs and landings in the storm.

“As far as the infrastructure, I have not heard there was a single thing that has to be corrected at the airport,” Al Ghaith said.

Airport authorities said more than 2,100 flights were cancelled and 115 diverted during the bad weather and in the days immediately following it. 

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