Emirates Airline eyes UK to US direct flights

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Dubai’s Emirates Airline has not ruled out entering the competitive transatlantic market, currently dominated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and offer flights from Dubai to the US via the UK.

Emirates’ UK vice president Laurie Berryman said the Dubai carrier has seen “strong demand” and last year carried 800,000 passengers on its routes in and out of its hubs in the north of England.

“Glasgow is double daily and we upped the aircraft size. Newcastle went from an Airbus to a B777, so we are growing capacity there as well. Birmingham is twice daily, and one of the Manchester flights is an A380, with the other two being B777s,” Berryman was quoted as saying in an interview with trade publication Buying Business Travel.

Emirates in October will launch flights from Dubai to New York via Milan and Berryman hinted, if it could gain regulatory approval, it might not be long before the carrier enters the transatlantic market and offers flights from Dubai to the US via northern England.

“We do hold some rights out of the regions, so I would never say never. One of the things we are keen to say to the Davies Commission [UK Airports Commission], to relieve pressure on the south-east, is why don’t we make all the regional airports completely open skies, so anyone can fly anywhere. Heathrow sits in the south of England, but Manchester has a bigger catchment area in terms of a two-hour drive,” he said in the interview when questioned on the issue.

The transatlantic market is dominated by the likes of UK carriers British Airways and Virgin Atlantic and US players Delta Air Lines and American Airways. Aviation analyst Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said there is still obvious demand in the market for Emirates to capitalise on.

“With Emirates carrying over 800,000 passengers out of just four UK regional hubs, it is evident that there is more than enough brisk demand to launch direct flights to the USA from cities that the likes of BA do not operate long haul services from and that too would raise the appeal of Emirates.

“Emirates could flood the North Atlantic with swathes of Airbus A380s and 777-300ERs out of places like Birmingham and Manchester, two cities which are bursting with pent up passenger demand, tempered only by the lack of long haul airlines operating there, particularly for Birmingham,” he said, adding that if the Dubai carrier goes through with the plan “British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will be the big losers.”

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Posted by: James A Garfield

This should be what is best for the people of Britain and what is best for the people of the USA. The market is very lucrative, so that tells you that prices could be lower. So in the end it should be who has the best product, that is how competition works.

Posted by: Nate Gilbert

I can't imagine any country allowing a non-native airline to operate multiple flights from one of its airports to multiple foreign destinations, unless there was complete reciprocity between the two countries (e.g., allowing British Airways to operate a hub out of Dubai.)

Posted by: Tom Whitelegge

Manchester can substain routes to the west coast, not just seasonally but year round, given the right airline as start up. EMIRATES have a fantastic record from Manchester as it is at the moment, the potential for more trans Atlantic capacity from Manchester must surely be a matter off time. British Airways, pulled the plug on Manchester, and retreated back to Heathrow a long time ago the future is not British Airways starting anything from the regions either now or in the future.

Posted by: Dave J

A boarding gate for a 737? You cannot be serious.Gate 12 was built specially for Emirates including the 380.Get your facts straight.

Posted by: john Smith

The Emirates product from Manchester is terrible. The entire contents of a 380 are crammed into a boarding gate designed for a 737. This is all just provocative and opportunistic PR at a time when the British government are undergoing a review on the future of air travel.

Posted by: RAH

?Emirates could flood the North Atlantic with swathes of Airbus A380s and 777-300ERs"

This statement alone will make the EU and US authorities reject EK practicing whatever fifth freedom right the UAE may currently hold. Fifth freedom come with conditions and are subject to a final approval (signature).. Dumping 380's transatlantic will NOT get that final signature sealed.

Good luck EK. If you ordered your 100+ 380's on the basis of dumping it EU to US, you are in for one big nasty headache.

Posted by: Rootless

Dream on. This would need to be approved by UK, EU and US authorities if EK were to get fifth freedom rights to carry passengers between UK and US. You think they will give permission to voracious Emirates to undermine the only profitable routes for their largest carriers? And BA, American, BMI, Continental have all tried long haul service from UK regional airports to US cities and finally dropped it for lack of demand. Plus EK used to do a Dubai to NYC route via Hamburg a few years ago but stopped it. I question whether the Milan stop-over route will work either. EK A380s are nice to travel on but their far more common 777s (much more likely for these route options) are inferior to the big transatlantic carriers: 10 seats across in economy, 7 in business - others have 9 and (at most) 6 across respectively in 777s. BA business seat is far better even than EK A380. Aer Lingus offer an option for UK regional travellers via Dublin where they can clear US immigration in advance.

Posted by: Dave J

London Airways only dropped Manchester to US flights because of the numbers in business class-the rest of the plane was full. I think you'll find if you bother to check that American and some other US airlines still operate daily flights and Virgin go to Orlando

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