The budget carrier flydubai yesterday reported it hit profitability for the first time last year and said it would be seeking to more than double its fleet of aircraft this year.
"We are in talks about another 50 aircraft," said the flydubai chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. "If the team reaches a decision, we hope to make an announcement at the Dubai Air Show."
Flydubai has a fleet of 28 Boeing 737 aircraft, but is understood to be talking to both Boeing and Airbus for its new order.
Its chief executive, Ghaith Al Ghaith, has expressed interest in Boeing's new 737 Max as well as the fuel-efficient Airbus A320neo. The airline already has an order in place for 50 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, all to be delivered by 2016. Sheikh Ahmed, who is also the chairman of Emirates Airline, was speaking as the government-owned flydubai reported a net profit of Dh151.9 million ($41.3m) for last year on revenue of Dh2.8 billion.
The airline carried 5.1 million passengers, with its passenger market share across the region growing by 63 per cent. It now flies to 52 destinations, targeting secondary airports within five hours flying time of its Dubai base.
"When we launched in 2009, our objective was to make air travel more accessible and offer real value for passengers. We quickly identified and capitalised on opportunities offered by our proximity to the world's centres of population in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, with the opening of new and underserved routes," said Mr Ghaith.
"We also challenged the conventional low-cost carrier approach, offering our passengers added-value services at affordable prices."
Flydubai said it planned to make its new aircraft acquisitions through Dh4.5bn worth of competitive financing, raised on the open market.
Six new aircraft will be delivered this year to meet demand on busy routes and enable the airline to reach new destinations. Since the beginning of the year, two new routes, Malé in the Maldives and Ha'il in Saudi Arabia, have joined flydubai's network. Multan and Sialkot in Pakistan will commence next month. Flydubai competes with Sharjah-based Air Arabia, and Kuwait's Jazeera Airways and other airlines.
"In its short history, flydubai has firmly established its place in the region," said Sheikh Ahmed. "It has opened up new markets, contributed to increased tourism in Dubai and made a major contribution to the growth and connectivity of Dubai's aviation hub. Today, I am proud to celebrate the success of this young, ambitious airline and its positive impact on the UAE."