FlyDubai to Take Over Some Emirates Flights
Just last year, Emirates joined forces with Dubai-based low-cost carrier FlyDubai to form a partnership that included codesharing, network and schedule alignments. Come earlier this month, FlyDubai announced that it is merging its loyalty program with Emirates' Skywards. Now, the two airlines are taking their relationship a step further and will begin operating flights for each other.
Emirates announced Monday that FlyDubai will operate its flights between Dubai (DXB) and Zagreb (ZAG) from December 2, 2018 through March 30, 2019. While Emirates typically uses a three-class Boeing 777-300ER to operate this route, FlyDubai will use a two-class Boeing 737 MAX 8 — a reduction of a couple hundred seats.
"The move will ensure that capacity is deployed to best serve customer demand by maximising the frequency for passengers during the winter season," the airline said in a release. That said, there won't actually be any changes in the frequency of the route because it will still be operated just once per day.
With the exception that these flights will operate from DXB's Terminal 3, home of Emirates, FlyDubai will practically take over the route completely during that time. Unlike when Qatar Airways operated flights for British Airways, this is not a wet-lease of FlyDubai planes. So, FlyDubai will assign its own flight numbers, provide the catering and maintain all of its usual branding.
While Emirates is a full-service carrier that offers all passengers amenities like a checked baggage allowance and free meals, FlyDubai is a low-cost carrier and charges extra for those things. To continue to offer a travel experience reflective of each other’s brands, bookings made through Emirates will come with complimentary meals and the usual checked baggage allowance, while those made through FlyDubai will not.
Some people simply prefer flying wide-body planes, but overall, this swap represents an upgrade in comfort for Emirates passengers. FlyDubai's 737 MAX aircraft are brand new and offer superior hard-products. Business-class seats on the 737 are completely lie-flat and are arranged in a 2-2 and 1-1 configuration, whereas the seats on Emirates' 777s are angle flat and arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. In coach, you'll have a 3-3 configuration, as opposed to 3-4-3.
However, the soft product, such as dining, is better on Emirates — regardless which cabin you find yourself on.
Both carriers are owned by the United Arab Emirates government but operate independently. Given that Emirates focuses on long-haul destinations, operating a fleet exclusively of 777s and A380s and FlyDubai flies just narrowbody Boeing 737s, it shouldn't be much of a surprise if more route swaps follow suit or the airlines ultimately fully merge.
All images by The Points Guy's Zach Honig.