Low cost carrier Flydubai has received its first 737 MAX 8 aircraft from Boeing, the US plane maker has announced.
The single-aisle jet is part of an order for 76 planes made at the 2013 Dubai Airshow and adds to flydubai’s existing fleet of 58 737-800s.
The 737 MAX is claimed to offer performance and efficiency improvements with lower per-set costs and an extended range that could allow the carrier to reach further away destinations.
“Flydubai will be keen not only to exploit this new range to link new destinations and provide more choice for passengers, it will be eager to maintain its cost efficiency edge over the likes of Air Arabia, Jazeera Airways and flynas – all of whom fly the heavier, less efficient A320 series of airplanes,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.
Flydubai currently flies to 95 locations in 44 countries with its furthest flights to countries more than five hours away including Thailand, the Czech Republic and Tanzania.
The airline recently announced plans to fly to two new destinations in Russia – Makhachkala and Voronezh – and to resume flights to Ufa.
The 737 MAX has been described as the fastest-selling plane in Boeing history with some 3,800 orders from 88 customers to date.
It includes CFM International LEAP-1B engines, advanced technology winglets, Boeing’s Sky Interior, large flight deck displays and other improvements.
“With higher seating capacity versus rivals, the 737 MAX 8 not only caters for flydubai’s dual class configuration which leverages higher yield business passengers, the new fuel efficiency will slash costs and fly much farther, allowing the airline to open up even more routes,” said Ahmad.
He forecast the carrier could realistically order another 100 737 MAXs in the future to replace its existing 737-800 fleet as it begins a shift to Dubai World Central this year that is expected to allow for greater room to expand.
However, a recently announced partnership with fellow Dubai government-owned carrier Emirates has led to speculation that the move could be delayed as the two seek greater synergies at Dubai International.