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Mon 24 Apr 2017 01:54 PM

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Emirates keen to restore US flights 'sooner rather than later'

President Sir Tim Clark also says last quarter has hit profits but airline will remain profitable this year

Emirates keen to restore US flights 'sooner rather than later'
Sir Tim Clark, the president of Emirates. (ITP Images)

Sir Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, is confident that the airline will restore capacity to routes in the United States "sooner rather than later".

Speaking on Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye radio, Clark said he is optimistic that a "resolution" can be found and that demand will be restored in the US.

His comments come the week after the state-owned carrier outlined plans to scale back capacity as of May on five of the 12 US routes it serves, citing the country’s tightening visa restrictions and a ban on carrying personal electronics from some locations, including Emirates’ Dubai hub.

The capacity cutbacks mark an unusual move for an airline that in recent years was known for huge plane orders to add flights and routes across its network, which currently comprises 155 destinations.

Clark said action had to be taken as the rate of booking on US flights could not support the number in operation.

"I'm forever the optimist. I think we will get a resolution to all this, that demand will be restored and that sooner rathert than later we will put back the capacity we have taken out on this temporary basis," he told the radio station.

He added that he thought the laptop ban would be temporary, saying he hoped to be able to persuade the US that Emirates' high level of security measures mean we "can do job for them".

Clark said that despite a difficult last quarter, there would be no impact on aircraft orders and the airline would remain profitable this year "but maybe not as much as we would have liked".

Emirates will shift aircraft to destinations in Malaysia, Oceania and Africa, he added.

He also criticised the the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, a coalition of top US airlines and unions, for "trying to take us down" over the past two years with claims that Gulf carriers have been receiving subsidies from local governments, claims that have been denied.

"They would rather see Emirates not on the planet at all. They use every trick in the book when it is clear that this compmay has never been subsidised by the government of Dubai," Clark said.

He added that the recent video of a United Airlines passenger being forcefully removed from a flight showed that it did not "put their customer at the heart of their businesses" but was "serving shareholders and company executives and their bonuses".

He hinted that he would have resigned had that happened on Emirates, something United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has not done.

Clark added that the US airlines' campaign against Emirates and its Gulf peers had been "abject failure" as Emirates had doubled its presence in the US, and opened five more routes during that periof.

He added that the campaign was unlikely to cut mustard with new US President Donald Trump, insisting that Gulf carriers have "demonstrated that we have been a strong economic friend to the US over many years", creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

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