Flydubai signs wet-lease deal with Smartwings

Muzaffar Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on November 28, 2019

(KT file)

Flydubai inks first wet-lease deal to offset impact of 737 MAX grounding

Flydubai on Thursday announced its first wet-lease agreement and said it signed a deal with the largest Czech airline Smartwings to acquire four Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft to minimise the impact of its 737 MAX grounding since March.

In a statement, Dubai-based low-cost carrier confirmed that four-leased aircraft will supplement the airline's fleet of 40 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800s by adding more capacity during the busy seasonal travel period between December 14, 2019 and January 25, 2020.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive officer at flydubai, said the continued grounding of MAX aircraft has had a significant impact on the airline's operations with a 30 per cent reduction of its flying schedule.

"We are taking every effort to minimise disruption for our passengers and these four additional aircraft will enable more passengers to have more options to travel during the holiday season," Al Ghaith said.

The all-economy class leased aircraft will operate on select routes on the flydubai network including Bahrain, Colombo, Faisalabad, Karachi, Kuwait, Muscat, Multan, Prague and Sialkot. Flydubai passengers booked to travel on a flight operated by Smartwings will be notified prior to their travel date.

"We are pleased to have concluded our first wet lease agreement with Smartwings, an IOSA certified (IATA Operational Safety Audit) company with a track record of successful ACMI agreements," Al Ghaith added.

Roman Vik, chief executive of Smartwings, said this kind of agreement is one of the ways to achieve even higher and more effective use of "our aircraft in winter season" when there is lower demand for flying in Europe.

"We believe that this agreement will intensify the cooperation between both carriers also in the future," Vik said.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, said this interim capacity boost will help relieve the pressure on flydubai's busy festive and New Year period in place of the currently grounded 737 MAXs.
"The short-term nature of the deal also allows the potential prospect of being able to return these 737-800s back to Smartwings if the 737 MAXs finally get the nod to fly again in mid-to-late January 2020," Ahmad told Khaleej Times on Thursday.

"Flydubai will therefore be able to maintain schedules without reducing frequencies -- and as a spin off benefit, it can capitalise on the busy winter period and generate revenue that it would otherwise have lost if it did not have these extra airplanes on hand," he said.

Flydubai incurred Dh196.7 million ($53.6 million) first-half loss this year due to 737 MAX grounding since March 13 this year. The grounding has effectively knocked out over 27 per cent of the airline's fleet that badly hit its expansion plans and growth strategy.

Flydubai said it will continue to review its plans, exploring all options to minimise disruption to its passengers with the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and these aircraft will not rejoin the operating schedule until it has received regulatory approval by the GCAA. 
- muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com

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