Eighteen hour delay on inaugural flightFlydubai has become the first low cost Middle East airline to operate all year round scheduled flights to the EX-YU region. However, its inaugural Dubai - Belgrade - Dubai service last Thursday was delayed by more than eighteen hours and shorter delays to the flights have ensued ever since.
Last Thursday, as the low cost airline launched flights from Dubai to Belgrade, its Boeing 737-800 jet was forced to land in Sofia due to fog in Belgrade causing the flight to be delayed by a few hours. There were few passengers on the outbound service, however, some 160 passengers, which included members of the press and officials, were waiting to board the flight in Belgrade. As boarding was about to begin, Eurocontrol from Brussels issued an order for the flight to be delayed further still. The new delay pushed the crew beyond their legal working hours and the flight was rescheduled for tomorrow morning. The service eventually took off from Belgrade, although still with an hour delay on its new rescheduled departure time. Passengers have criticised the airline for having to wait for hours at the gate, however, Flydubai has issued a public statement saying, “This was a very unfortunate set of circumstances which was beyond our control. Flydubai has an on time performance record of 85%, which is one the best in the industry, and we understand how disappointing delays of this nature are to our customers. Of course this was especially disappointing since it was our first flight to Belgrade”.
The second flight operated by Flydubai saw some 120 passengers board in Belgrade, while yesterday’s service carried 80 passengers. Numbers steadily decrease for each flight thereon. Currently, there are very few passengers on the inbound service. Both of the subsequent flights saw delays, the first by an hour and the second by some fifteen minutes. The no frills airline has invested heavily in a marketing campaign in Belgrade and has managed to get tour operators on its side who are offering Christmas and New Year packages to Dubai, leading the airline to introduce several special flights during the holiday period. Flydubai operates a four weekly service from Dubai to Belgrade. The route is notorious for its extreme seasonality with numbers significantly rising from late November to mid January and again from June to September.
Belgrade Airport operates the CAT IIIb landing system allowing jets to land in heavy fog. However, aircraft must have the necessary equipment to use the landing system.