| DUBAI, April 24
DUBAI, April 24 State-owned budget airline
flydubai will increase capacity to Russia by up to 50 percent
from September partly in response to a new visa system for
Russian citizens travelling to the United Arab Emirates.
flydubai had carved out a niche connecting Dubai to
destinations in Russia and former Soviet states that previously
had limited or no direct air links with the city state.
But flydubai and other airlines cut flights to Russia in the
past few years as the country's economy was hit by low oil
prices and the impact of Ukraine sanctions.
"We're trying to get back the same volume we used to be
before," flydubai chief executive Ghaith al-Ghaith told Reuters
in an interview in Dubai on Monday.
Flydubai currently operates 29 weekly flights to seven
Russian destinations, an airline spokeswoman later said. The
increase will be compared to 2016, the spokeswoman said without
providing further details.
Al-Ghaith said demand on Russian routes was increasing
following recent visa changes by the United Arab Emirates for
Russian visitors to Dubai rose 106 percent in the first
three months of 2017 after the UAE said in January it would
grant Russians visas on arrival.
"I think you will see next year this will be a big market
for Dubai," al-Ghaith said.
Flydubai's profit fell 68 percent in 2016. In March last
year, one of its aircraft crashed in southern Russia killing all
62 on board.
($1 = 3.6726 UAE dirham)
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell. Editing by Jane Merriman)