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Tue 24 Sep 2019 09:32 AM

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Emirates sees 'extraordinary strong' UK demand, despite threat of no-deal Brexit, says Clark

Britain has seen high demand and accounts for 56% of the Dubai carrier's European profits.

Emirates sees 'extraordinary strong' UK demand, despite threat of no-deal Brexit, says Clark
Sir Tim Clark speaking at this year's AVSEC Global 2019 conference in Dubai.

Demand for flights to and from the United Kingdom has been “extraordinary strong this summer”, and “defies” concerns over the ongoing threat of a no-deal Brexit when the country leaves the European Union next month, Emirates president Tim Clark told reports on Sunday.

“I find this all very interesting because the demand from the United Kingdom, both in and out, has been extraordinary strong this summer,” Clark said on the sidelines of the AVSEC Global 2019 conference, which is currently taking place in Dubai.

“Of all the markets in Europe, despite what's been going on the last three or four years, it has grown between 6 and 8 percent a year and this summer we've had high spillage rates, in terms of we haven't been able to accommodate the demand… So, it is a hugely robust market for us and it defies all the sort of naysayers about whether you're in, or out [of the EU], or whatever,” he added.

The UK voted in a referendum in June 2016 to leave the EU and, after lengthy negotiations and several unsuccessful votes in the British parliament, the deadline now set for the country to leave is October 31, 2019. New Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a staunch pro-Brexiteer, is likely to push to leave the European trade bloc even if no deal has been agreed.

Most profitable

Earlier this month, Clark said the UK was the airline’s most profitable European market and currently accounts for 26 percent of Emirates’ capacity and 56 percent of its total profit from Europe.

The overall Dubai-London route alone is currently valued at $800 million a year, according to airline data firm OAG. The London Heathrow-Dubai route alone was the fourth busiest route in the world and attracted 3.4 million passengers in 2017, RoutesOnline figures revealed.

Emirates has been flying into the UK since 1987, when a deal was struck to begin service to London’s Gatwick Airport.

In 1990, the airline added Manchester to its network and in 1991 the airline finally secured a slot at London Heathrow.

Today, Emirates flies to eight airports in the UK: Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle.

“When the Pound went as low as it did more recently the demand for the United Kingdom went up so strongly that you couldn't get hotel rooms in London, Airbnb, whatever it was. It was heaving. So, mixed messages there,” Clark said on Sunday.

The president of the Dubai-based carrier also said the company’s financial results for the first half of 2019 will be “better than last year”.

Last year, Emirates reported a 86 percent year-on-year drop in net profit during the first half of the 2018-19 financial year, despite a 10 percent rise in revenues to AED48.9 billion ($13.3 billion).

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