By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Emirates SVP for commercial operations in the Americas said he believes that the airline "has sorted out" future challengers from Mexican detractors
Emirates airline is already seeing strong demand for its newly inaugurated flight between Dubai and Mexico City via Barcelona, with load factors expected to spike around the Christmas travel period, according to Salem Obaidallah, the airline’s senior VP for commercial operations, Americas.
On Monday, December 9, Emirates completed its inaugural flight on the route, landing at 16:15 local time at Mexico City’s international airport.
In an inflight interview with Arabian Business, Obaidallah said that the initial flight’s “excellent” load factor is a strong sign that the route will be fruitful for the airline.
“That indicates to us that this will be an excellent route for us, not only from the passenger side, but also from the cargo side,” he said.
According to Obaidallah, the inaugural flight carried 13 tonnes of cargo on the Barcelona-Mexico leg of the trip, out of a possible 14 tonnes. He added that Emirates believes the cargo capacity of the flight will prove popular with Mexican businesses working to export products such as avocados, berries and fresh produce.
“That is good for businesses that have to ship their goods,” he added. “It’s easy and an excellent service between two countries.”
Additionally, Obaidallah said that the Emirates has already detected that bookings “are growing fast” among tourists.
“Around Christmas time, the load factor will go up to 85 percent.”
The Emirates flight to Mexico follows months of legal wrangling in Mexican courts stemming from a challenge from local carrier Aeromexico, which also operates direct flights between Barcelona and Mexico City.
Aeromexico, along with Mexico’s pilots union, strongly resisted the Emirates route, saying that they believe Mexican jobs will be lost as a result of the flight. Mexico’s Civil Aviation Authority and tourism officials, however, have both stated their support for the flight.
Obaidallah said that he believes that there is little Aeromexico can do going forward to impede the flight.
“Otherwise we wouldn’t be on board. That’s sorted out. We had an issue with them, but it’s sorted,” he said. “We have our travel rights, our documents, our counter at the airport, and we’ve already started routing people.”
Ahead of the flight, Emirates announced an offer – for bookings made for travel between December 9 and August 31, 2020 – in which economy class fares start at AED 4,895 and business class bookings start from AED 19,995.
This week, Mexican media covering the flight were quick to point out that Emirates represents significant savings over Aeromexico.
Mexico’s El Financiero, for example, conducted a search and found that bookings made with Emirates in Mexico for travel between Mexico City and Barcelona between December 23 and 30 are as much as 63 percent more cost effective than Aeromexico.
In a report based on its own research, El Financiero found that a round trip economy class ticket between Mexico City and Barcelona during that time period costs 16,254 Mexican pesos (AED 3,105.47), compared to 26,512 pesos Aeromexico (AED 5,065.35).
Similarly, travel between Mexico City and Barcelona between January 13 and 20 was found to be 29 percent cheaper on Emirates.