Emirates Airline has unveiled plans to grow the number of flights across its network by 14 per cent in 2009.
This year, the Dubai based carrier will add 18 new passenger aircraft to its fleet, increasing seating capacity by 14 per cent and enabling it to start new routes as well as increase frequencies on many existing routes. It will also expand cargo capacity by 17 per cent.The additional frequencies will afford passengers a greater choice of flights, more frequent connections with their target markets and shorter, more convenient connection times.
Emirates currently has a fleet of 129 wide-bodied aircraft. By the end of the 2008-09 financial year (ending 31st March 2009), that figure will stand at 132, including four superjumbo Airbus A380s. The carrier will welcome a further seven A380s in fiscal year 2009-10 (ending 31st March 2010), as well as 10 Boeing 777-300ER, one 777-200LR and one Boeing 777 freighter.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: “The next year is not going to be an easy ride for the airline industry. Emirates has prepared the best we can for the challenges we foresee, but we also see it as a time of opportunity. 2009, with our significant capacity increase, will be a year of consolidation for us, with fewer new routes launched than in previous years.
“Instead, we will concentrate on strengthening our presence on routes where there is a greater demand from our customers. All of our new capacity will be deployed in markets where we see growth potential, particularly Africa and the Middle East.”
Indeed, Emirates’ fastest growing markets are Africa and the Middle East, recording 17 and six per cent growth respectively in the last 12 months. To this end, Emirates recently added a second daily flight to Lagos.
It will also introduce services from Dubai to Durban, South Africa on 1 October 2009. The route will be served by a two-class, 278-seat Airbus A330-200 which can carry up to 14 tonnes of cargo into the port city.
Last month, Emirates announced a vast Middle East expansion plan taking the number of seats in the region to 50,000 on 180 flights a week. Additional services to Amman, Riyadh, Jeddah, Kuwait and Damascus were started recently.
Emirates has added 32 weekly flights to its existing Indian services since November. The enhanced capacity means customers now have a choice of 163 weekly flights into 10 gateways in the country.
As new aircraft come online, both Los Angeles and San Francisco - Emirates’ newest routes, launched in October and December - will go from thrice weekly to daily from May. The extra services will add more than 2,000 seats a week between the US west coast and Dubai, which is more than a 100 per cent increase on the current 1,600 seats.
There is increased capacity to Australia with additional daily flights to Brisbane and Melbourne, taking the total number of flights a week to 63 effective 1st February. Later this year, a third daily service to Sydney will be added. On 1st February, Emirates became the first carrier to operate commercial A380 flights into New Zealand with the launch of its Dubai-Sydney-Auckland service. Operated by a 489-seat Airbus A380 three times a week, it will go daily from 1st May.
Plans are also afoot to deploy superjumbos on Dubai-Seoul and Dubai-Singapore services in November and December respectively.
The first A380 flight between Dubai and Seoul’s Incheon International Airport will depart in November, while the Singapore service will start in December and initially run four times weekly.
In Europe, Emirates has already embarked on an expansion programme. In recent months it has commenced double daily flights into Milan, increased Istanbul services to 11 flights a week, increased services on the Larnaca-Malta route to seven times weekly and Nice flights to five times weekly. Second daily services into Moscow and Athens are also planned for March.
In total, the additional capacity will see more than 8,635 seats and around 600 tonnes of cargo capacity added to the Emirates fleet.
“Emirates has recorded an annual growth rate of 20 per cent over the last five years,” reported HH Sheikh Ahmed. “In the last two years alone, we have launched 11 new passenger and three cargo-only routes. In 2007, with the launch of its Dubai-Sao Paulo service, we became the first - and only - carrier to fly to six continents non-stop from a single hub.”
Established in October 1985 with flights to Karachi and Mumbai, Emirates Airline today directly serves 101 cities in 61 countries. In October 2008, the Emirates dedicated Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport opened. With a total built-up area of 515,000 sq metres and the capability of handling 43 million passengers annually, the 10-storey concourse was specifically designed with Emirates’ future growth plans in mind.