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Tue 10 May 2011 08:23 PM

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Emirates eyes 'several hundred routes' in expansion

Airline's chairman says growth will make many rivals 'unhappy' because of increased competition

Emirates eyes 'several hundred routes' in expansion

Emirates plans to fly to more places and order more planes, ignoring claims of unfair competition from rivals, the airline's chairman said on Tuesday.

The airline's aggressive expansion has been criticised by European carriers who say the Dubai-based company and other Gulf carriers are effectively subsidised, provoking fears that Gulf-based superjumbos will draw traffic from their hubs.

Emirates, which is state-owned, will soon fly to "several hundred destinations" from 111 locations now, Emirates' chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said after the airline reported a 52 percent jump in 2010 profits.

"I'm sure this will make a lot of people unhappy but the market is there to grow. Airlines in Europe don't want to see us there because we are giving them competition. But we get good market share because of the product," he said.

"We have big plans. We will operate more to North and South America and also Asia," he added.

Sheikh Ahmed indicated that Emirates would announce new aircraft orders at the Dubai Airshow in November.

Dubai has led the charge in a war of words between North American and European carriers and their Gulf rivals over subsidies, export credits and landing rights, blaming their woes on "parasitic" taxes.

"If they spend as much time running their business as they do trying to run us down they might make even more money," Emirates president Tim Clark said last year.

The UAE failed to gain greater access for Emirates and Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways in Canada last year, leading to tension between the two countries.

Meanwhile, German airline Lufthansa has asked that Emirates be denied landing slots at Berlin's new airport.

Emirates is the largest customer for the Airbus A380 superjumbo and has so far ordered 90 of the aircraft. It plans to increase its fleet to eventually include 120 A380s, from the 15 it currently flies.

That could turn the European aviation market upside down.

"If Emirates continue to execute as they have done they will force a restructuring of the industry simply by deploying the 90 or so A380s they have on order or in service," Sudeep Ghai, a partner at London-based Athena Aviation, said.

"Expect other markets to start making even more protectionist noises than they have been in defence of their local carriers."

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Peter Johnston 9 years ago

Maybe Emirates should also just talk less about their massive expansion plans, and just expand as planned ... and let the consumers walk the talk with their money. It's clear Emirates runs a tight ship that makes money ... why waste time debating your future in the media week in and week out ? Order the hundreds of A380's and just do it.

gutty 9 years ago

Expansion is appreciable, at the same time too much of expansion will case for the mismanagement and laps on operational control.

Welcome for the expansion with the great strategy control over the operation and customer service.

Wishing all the best for the expansion.

Billy 9 years ago

Peter, your comments make perfect sense but that is not Dubai's way. If there is an opportunity for PR Dubai will take it. That is how the Dubai dream has been built and the more talk there is in the press about how much Emirates is expanding the more publicity and positive spin Dubai gets.

EC Tan 9 years ago

I totally agree with you, PJ. Almost every week Emirates boasting, boasting about their routes/airport expansions, aircrafts orders etc in the media. If they are more discreet about it, Emirates would have experience less opposition/hostile from other carriers. Have you heard of Singapore Airline boasting about their expansions every week in the media?

Dean Chang 9 years ago

If it benefits the passengers, go forth, Emirates!
Fly everywhere you want, buy all the planes and flaunt your financial prowess as it pleases you, blow your trumpet and do whatever gets you going.
But for goodness sake, get your act together Emirates! In the past few years, since the economy of many nations across the world fell, Emirates' service standards have plummeted as well.
Flew Kuala Lumpur-Dubai-Nairobi last month - what a horrific experience it was, right from the get go at KLIA. Zero presence from Emirates staff at the check-in counters to help sort out problems and Emirates personnel were completely incommunicado. I found out that that this is a daily affair in KL these days, ever since the Emirates office there was downsized when the recession set-in, and since an expat manager (who does a wonderful disappearing act!) has been at helm. So Emirates, grow big and strong, but ensure that that's in service first!

J.P. 9 years ago

Helsinki, Finland needs direct flights from Dubai to Helsinki and from Helsinki to Dubai.

Telcoguy 9 years ago

@Billy, the "positive" part is the one Peter does not seem to believe.
The boasting and the spin may have worked as long as it was mostly a local affair, but now it may not be the best approach as it really increases resistence. and yes, yes, "we are in dxb and do as we please" the thing is that when you are trying to do international business you are no longer in Dubai.
Just a thought.

JG 9 years ago

Emirates should concentrate on running their planes on time rather than expecting us to put up with 1 hour delays.

David 9 years ago

Singapore Airlines does not boast about its expansion because as a mature airline, it has virtually stopped expanding its network. I recall that in recent years, they have in fact terminated its services to Vancouver, Karachi, Lahore, Chicago, Amritsar, etc...

Mohammed A 9 years ago

I would like to suggest to Emirates that they speak to the appropriate authorities in Kuwait to utilize the Sheikh Saad Terminal for their flights out of Kuwait. I understand that Kuwait Interational Airport is difficult to run flights out of and this new terminal would be a better terminal for your flights. FLYDUBAI could take one half of the terminal for their use. You could then market this terminal as a pleasant stopover to other destinations or even do a stopover with the A380 to London once a week during the peak summer months.