In the early hours of Wednesday morning, flydubai’s first direct flight from Dubai landed in Uzbekistan’s second largest city, Samarkand. The first flight on the new route was welcomed with the traditional water cannon salute as it taxied to the airport terminal.
The path to the Silk Road
Dubai and Samarkand in Uzbekistan are now linked directly by a new service from flyduabai. Data: Flightradar24.com
Flydubai flight FZ769, operated by a Boeing B737 MAX 8, registration A6-FMS, departed Dubai International Airport (DXB) at 22:57. The MAX 8 covered the 1,200 miles (1,935 km) in 2:42 hours, landing in Samarkand International Airport (SKD) at 02:39 on Wednesday morning. It was on the ground for a little over two hours before returning to Dubai, and later in the day operated a return flight from Dubai to Sarajevo International Airport (SJJ) in Bosnia And Herzegovina.
On arrival, a delegation led by flydubai’s chief executive officer, Ghaith Al Ghaith, was greeted by the CEO of Air Marakanda, the airport operator, Gairat Nematov and other local senior officials. Marking the occasion, Nematov said the new route connecting Samarkand to Dubai will positively impact the entire Samarkand region.
“Cooperating with our valued partners at flydubai, we have established a direct link between Samarkand International Airport and one of the biggest and most vibrant economic hubs in the world. Air Marakanda is very glad to welcome the new airline, and we are committed to provide passengers to and from Dubai with a best-in-class experience.”
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Flydubai will operate a twice-weekly service from Dubai DXB to Samarkand on Tuesdays and Fridays, with return business class fares starting from $2,180 and economy class Lite fares from $490. Flydubai’s Ghaith Al Gaith said the airline is committed to opening up underserved markets and strengthening the links between Dubai and the UAE within the region.
“We are excited to see our network in Uzbekistan grow with the launch of flights to Samarkand. Since 2019 when we first started operations to Uzbekistan, we have seen sustainable demand, and we are confident that the launch of our second destination will provide our passengers with more reliable and convenient options for travel.”
The third flydubai route to Uzbekistan is coming
flydubai is adding more capacity to the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan by utilizing the Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: flydubai
This is not the first flydubai service to the Central Asian country, as it already operates to the nation’s capital city of Tashkent, also using a B737 MAX 8. That service, flight FZ1941 operates from Dubai DXB to Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport (TAS). On September 24, a third Uzbek destination will be added to flydubai’s network when services commence to the eastern city of Namangan, just 19 miles (30 km) from the Kyrgyzstan border. When that starts, flydubai will operate ten weekly flights between the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. Namangan International Airport (NMA) is a popular destination for Russian airlines, with NordStar, Red Wings Airlines, S7 Airlines, Smartavia and Ural Airlines listed as users.
Samarkand SKD has recently undergone an $80 million redevelopment and expansion project, a venture between the operator Air Marakanda and the state partner Uzbekistan Airports JCS. The airport serves a region of 3.9 million people and is a gateway to the fabled Silk Road, the ancient trading route between China and Eastern Europe via Central Asia. The expansion will triple the airport’s capacity, and market research by Lufthansa Consulting forecasts an increase in annual passenger traffic from 480,000 to two million.
Will these two prove popular routes for flydubai?