Proclaiming that flydubai is “ready for business” the low-cost carrier today announced plans to launch new business class services on the ground and in the air, including adding 12 premium seats to its Boeing 737-800s as well as airport lounge privileges.
Driven by passenger “feedback”, the move represents a major shift in business strategy for flydubai, which has offered all-economy seating – and an ‘a la carte’ unbundled product – since its inception in 2009.
Company CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith says the introduction of business class – which will give customers access to faster check-in, larger leather seats with 42-in pitch, 12.1-in high def touch-screen IFE monitors and a variety of internationally-inspired menus – represents an “evolution of our passenger offering as we continue to meet the travel needs of our customers”.
He adds that flydubai’s “agility and flexibility has been an integral part of our young airline’s journey since its launch four years ago”.
At present, flydubai’s 30-strong 737s are fitted with 189 economy class seats manufactured by Recaro. New aircraft go straight from Boeing to Everett-based Aviation Technical Services (ATS), where the seats and Lumexis’ award winning, fibre optics-based IFE system are installed post-delivery.
Starting in August of this year, flydubai will take its first 737 with 12 business class seats configured in a 2-2 formation. This will reduce the carrier’s economy inventory to 162 seats. All new aircraft subsequently delivered will include business and economy classes (a total of four 737s are scheduled to be delivered during the remainder of 2013). Retrofit of the current fleet will start in September.
Italian firm Geven worked with flydubai to customise its new Comoda business class seat – with two-tone Italian leather and lumbar support – for launch customer flydubai. Geven recently confirmed to the APEX editor’s blog that five airlines have ordered Comoda; flydubai was listed as an undisclosed customer until today.
It is not immediately clear if flydubai is pressing Boeing to make both the Lumexis seat-back IFE system and Geven Comoda seat line-fit offerable on the 737. The carrier’s current green field retrofits are performed at ATS because the Lumexis system is awaiting offerability.
Meanwhile, business class fares on flydubai will also include: a dedicated and highly-trained cabin crew member; premium catering services including cold food and accompaniments on short flights, and the option of a three-course meal on flights of 90 minutes and above; priority check-in located one minute or just 120 paces from the car park at Terminal 2, Dubai International Airport; priority baggage collection upon arrival at destination; a dedicated customer service team, which will be available 24/7; and access to flydubai’s new business class lounge in Terminal 2 later this year.
Routes with business class service will be announced – and tickets go on sale – in August. The business class seats will be available on select flights from the beginning of October.
The airline also says it will launch a new catering option for economy class customers, in the near future. Passengers can pre-select their meal and order online up to 48 hours before departure.
A press conference is being held today by flydubai. This article will be updated as and when more details become available.
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