Emirates stated (26-Dec-2013) it will become the first airline to operate a regularly scheduled A380 service to London Gatwick Airport. From 30-Mar-2014, the airline’s 489-seat A380 will replace the Boeing 777-300ER on EK flight 09/10, bringing a 36% increase in capacity on one of its three daily services, Emirates executive VP and CCO Thierry Antinori said, “London Gatwick was our first destination in the UK when we launched our services to the airport in 1987. It continues to be a strategic gateway not only into London but also into the regions of the Southeast and we are pleased to be the first airline to introduce a daily scheduled A380 service to the airport". He continued, “Our long term strategic partnership with London Gatwick enables us to bring our flagship A380 on a regularly scheduled basis and build on our robust presence at the airport. Our support for London Gatwick’s long-term growth plans is aligned with our global strategy to optimise capacity on our major routes and to offer our passengers with ever more opportunities to fly on our A380s". Emirates’ current A380 destinations are: Amsterdam, Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Manchester, Mauritius, Melbourne, Moscow, Munich, New York JFK, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney, Toronto, and Brisbane. Emirates will start operating scheduled A380 services to Zurich and Barcelona from Jan-2014 and Feb-2014 respectively. [more - original PR]
Emirates to become the first airline to operate a regularly scheduled A380 service to London Gatwick
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Cathay Pacific consolidates Middle East network as competition grows in local and source markets
Cathay Pacific is consolidating its Middle East network, largely prompted by a flood of capacity in the Middle East-Philippines market. Passengers from the Philippines alone often comprise half or more of Cathay's Middle East flights. The Middle East-Philippines market has grown rapidly, led by a 70% increase in UAE-Philippines capacity as Cebu Pacific launched long-haul flights and Emirates and Etihad increased capacity.
The smaller Saudi Arabia-Philippines market has grown by over 60%. The result has been over-capacity with no winners as the market is intensely price-driven by contractors seeking seats for Filipino migrant workers. Cathay's reductions, while small, are likely only the start of needed consolidation between the Philippines and Middle East.
Cathay is particularly at the losing end as its once-tidy Philippines-Middle East market has come under Gulf and LCC competition that can offer lower fares and more direct services. Some Philippines-Middle East markets require two stops due to triangular routings, which are being discontinued. Also discontinued are services to Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. Air Seychelles, 40% owned by Etihad, introduced Abu Dhabi-Hong Kong services in 2013.
While Cathay may not experience such fierce and sudden competition changes elsewhere in its market, it is an unwelcome example of what such vibrant market conditions including more Gulf, LCC and non-stop competition can do to its network, which has partially relied on traffic other carriers could not or did not bother to carry. While that has been a smart network foundation, it is also a shifting one, as European carriers and even Singapore Airlines have found.
Arab Air Carriers show that not all are created equal, but the rest of the world can learn from them
At the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Amsterdam in Nov-2013, one of the recurring themes was the success of Middle East airlines. Abdul Wahab Teffaha, Secretary General of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO), gave his thoughts on the development of Arab airlines, their success and the lessons to be learned.
Building on their geographical location, supportive government policies and relative political stability, some AACO carriers – notably Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways – have developed business models combining cost efficiency, high growth and a premium service. Of course, this formula has not been replicated everywhere in the region and it is a little misleading to talk about Arab carriers as a homogeneous group.
Nevertheless, other participants in the aviation sector, whether operator or government and whether in the Arab world or elsewhere, could learn some useful lessons from the success of the Gulf Three in particular.