Senior flydubai executives and members of the Russian Business Council in Dubai and Northern Emirates met at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss the impact of increasing air links to emerging destinations in Russia on inter-country economic development.

Chaired by Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai and Dr. Igor Egorov, Chairman of the Russian Business Council, which operates under the auspices of Dubai Chamber, the meeting was attended by the media and Atiq Juma Nassib, Senior Director, Commercial Services Sector, Dubai Chamber. With the UAE increasingly being viewed as an ideal platform for Russian businesses to extend their reach to new markets, the roundtable was organised to examine the existing UAE/Russia trade and tourism relations and discuss ways in which to strengthen bilateral ties.

flydubai’s presence in Russia was highlighted as one of the foremost contributing factors to the growth of investment and economic development between the two nations. Dubai’s pioneering low cost airline recently doubled its network in Russia to four points with the addition of flights to Kazan and Ufa. The new routes along with existing destinations Yekaterinburg and Samara provide direct, affordable and convenient flights to the four cities that have had no or few direct air links previously.

Other noteworthy topics discussed were the UAE’s role as a platform for Russian businesses to extend their reach to new global markets; the key elements required to achieve successful market penetration in Russia; as well as the importance of increasing access to developing regions within the federation.

“Dubai offers Russian businesses an enormous opportunity to reach out to a global audience, given the city’s central location relative to emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America. flydubai’s new and existing air links will play a critical role in not only expanding investment opportunities in both countries but in opening up fields for collaboration, including oil and gas; manufacturing; general trading; and media to name a few,” stated Dr. Egorov.

With its new routes to Ufa and Kazan, flydubai links Dubai to two of Russia’s most buoyant economic regions. The Dubai Chamber welcomed the expansion of the network as an important step in advancing bilateral ties between the UAE and Russia.

“Dubai’s high connectivity with the rest of the world is one of its advantages and a reason why the city attracts significant foreign investment. flydubai has played a major role in increasing Dubai’s status as an international business hub through its rapid network expansion to key emerging markets and we congratulate them on their achievements. And flydubai’s new routes to Ufa and Kazan will help provide even more opportunity to attract Russian investment and new business in Dubai,” said Mr. Nassib from the Dubai Chamber.

“Russia is ranked Dubai’s 38th top trading partner, with non-oil trade in 2010 worth AED 4.2 billion. Dubai offers Russian businesses a fertile environment for investments and partnerships and at present, there are 412 Russian partnership and ownership companies among Dubai Chamber’s membership – a figure we would like to see increase. The recently established Russian Business Council is doing an excellent job in representing the interests of the Russian business community in Dubai and helping Dubai Chamber create stronger business relationships between our two countries,” Mr. Nassib said.

As a UAE-based company that has established operations in Russia, flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith also outlined the intricacies of setting up business and discussed the demand generators for the routes. “Russia is a very important market for us, both in terms of business and tourist travel. With Dubai being home to more than 18,000 Russian expats there is a growing need for quality, low cost, direct flights to these destinations. Russia is a growing economy, having grown by four per cent in 2010 and a further 3.8 per cent in the first five months of 2011. Previous air links to Russia have been seasonal and centred on established economic centres but by providing regular and reliable flights to emerging destinations we are expanding scope for growth in business and tourism.” stated Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai.

Figures released this week by Dubai International Airport also credits flydubai for a 33.9% growth in Russian passengers to Dubai from January – September 2011 compared to the same period last year.

“Before flydubai launched in Samara in October 2010, the route was only being served during the winter period. Since our twice weekly flights began, the route has seen a 627% increase in overall traffic while the other carrier has seen a 79% growth (year to date 2011 v 2010). Similarly, a year on from flydubai’s launch of services to Yekaterinburg, passenger numbers on the route have grown by 175% and 6% for the other carrier (year to date 2011 v 2010). Our Russian flights are popular because we offer all travellers, whether flying to the UAE for business, leisure or to visit friends and family, a greater number of reliable, affordable and convenient travel options,” added Ghaith Al Ghaith.