DUBAI—FlyDubai is in talks with aircraft manufacturers about another large order, but the commitment may not be announced at the current Dubai Airshow.


“I personally think we don’t have enough time to do a deal at the show,” FlyDubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said on the sidelines of the event.

The airline already has 75 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft expected to arrive between now and 2023 from a previous order, securing further growth. But reports say the carrier could place another order of the same—or greater—size. “We always [are working] with the manufacturers for more aircraft,” Al Ghaith said, without adding details.

FlyDubai took delivery of its first 737-8 in August.

Its further expansion hinges on several factors, most importantly more liberalized air service agreements. “We are very limited,” Al Ghaith said. “We would like to introduce hundreds more flights to India, but we cannot.” The airline is typically flying sectors up to 6 hr., the longest being Dubai-Bangkok.

The airline is equipping its aircraft with new seats, including lie-flats in business class. The upgraded product is currently on nine aircraft, and all the new 737-8s will have the upmarket cabin “for the foreseeable future,” Al Ghaith said.

The other important variable for FlyDubai’s business model is its newly launched cooperation with Emirates. Dubai’s two airlines have launched their first codesharing services, and more initiatives are coming. One of the most important decisions is how to align operations at Dubai International Airport (DXB). Al Ghaith said a decision should be made in the coming months, with several options on the table. FlyDubai could stay in Terminal 2, which is opposite the main buildings. It also could split operations on either side of the runways, or make a complete move to Terminals 1 or 3 to operate alongside Emirates.

As one of the first changes, the two airlines have reduced the minimum connecting time between their operations from 3 to 2 hr. Passengers take buses to the other side of airport to make their next flights.

At the same time, FlyDubai plans to continue its growth at Dubai World Central Airport (DWC), where it currently operates a small portion of its services. When completed, DWC is supposed to be large enough to support Emirates’ entire operation.

Al Ghaith can imagine operating from two airports as a permanent solution. “There are many cities in the world that have two airports, so DXB could well stay open,” he said. A firm date for the move has not been set, and the schedule for construction has been shifting.