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Fri 24 Aug 2012 09:58 AM

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Emirates keen to grow services to Ireland

Airline president says he expects to launch second daily flight to Dubai 'within two years'

Emirates keen to grow services to Ireland

Emirates Airline expects to launch a second daily flight to Dublin within the next two years to meet demand on the route, its president has said.

Tim Clark said doubling the service to the Irish capital would likely happen "within the next 18 months or two years".

In an interview with the Irish Times, he added that the Dublin route had proved popular since its launch in January.

On May 1, it deployed a larger, 360-seat Boeing 777-300ER to cope with demand and has so far carried about 120,000 passengers on the route.

He told the paper: “It depends really on the availability of aircraft. They are coming in thick and fast now.”

Clark added in the interview that he wished Emirates had entered the Irish market earlier but had been delayed by a number of issues.

“With hindsight, I regret not having moved earlier. Clearly, had we moved in the 1990s or 2000/2001 years we would have been much more established here. We would have had probably two flights a day by now and probably done very well,” he told the paper.

As a result, Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways was given a significant head start on attracting Irish travellers to the Middle East.

It flies here 10 times a week and plans to move to twice a day at some point in the near future.

Clark also said Emirates currently has no interest in buying a strategic stake in Aer Lingus, amid reports that Etihad may be doing just that.

“At this stage we don’t have any interest in buying a stake in Aer Lingus. We are keen to do business with Aer Lingus commercially but as far as buying into it at this stage – no,” Clark told the paper.

Ireland has a population of around 4.5 million and a thriving tourism industry, with a significant number of nationals living overseas. Some 80,000 Irish nationals live in Australia alone.

Emirates has faced criticism from European carriers who have pressed their governments to deny the fast-growing airline new flying rights.

Carriers including Air France-KLM Group, Europe’s biggest carrier by traffic, claim that lower taxes and airport fees at Emirate’s Dubai hub amounts to an unfair advantage.

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