The fare battle came as the arrival of a third United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier puts pressure on operators flying from the Central Belt. Rival Emirates has slashed its return fare from Glasgow to a low of £771 for the same dates. The same flight with Qatar Airways comes in at £995 return.
Consumers have been spoilt for choice for long-haul flights since Doha-based Qatar launched its service from Edinburgh in May, with Etihad announcing in July that it would also begin flying from the capital via its Abu Dhabi hub next summer. Its first flights, which went on sale yesterday, will start on June 8.
The move marked the first serious competition in Scotland for Dubai giant Emirates, which has operated from Glasgow Airport since 2004.
Industry experts predict fierce competition between the three carriers, which will not only try to undercut one another on the Scotland-to-UAE corridor but on popular holiday destinations in the Far East and Australia.
Kevin Thom of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association said: “We’re definitely seeing strong competition now with all three Middle Eastern carriers operating from Scotland. You’ve got the double daily flights with Emirates from Glasgow, Qatar from Edinburgh and now Etihad on the way.
“So I do suspect you will see them cutting fares. [£771] is a very competitive price for Australia and hopefully a sign of things to come.
“Before the competition was KLM via Amsterdam, maybe Lufthansa or even British Airways through Heathrow, and you might be able to get a return flight in the region of £800 to 900 on offer, but these were very restricted. Looking at KLM for next month, a return flight to Sydney would cost you £1600.”
Fares to Bangkok, another popular destination for Scots, have also benefitted from the competition, with Etihad squeezing an economy ticket to £505 return next June, ahead of £560 for Qatar Airways or £562 for Emirates.
By comparison, the cheapest direct flight currently available for Glasgow to New York on June 8 next year comes in at £680 return.
Emirates and Qatar Airways are bitter rivals, founded less than 10 years apart in 1985 and 1993 respectively, and both former holders of the prestigious “World’s Best Airline” crown – Emirates in 2013 and Qatar Airways in 2011 and 2012.
The arrival of Etihad in 2003 put both under pressure, though Emirates bosses at Glasgow airport are said to be confident exclusive facilities like their newly opened executive lounge will give them an edge over their Edinburgh airport competitors.
Douglas McNeill, aviation industry analyst at London-based Charles Stanley, said the prices were “excellent”, though he questioned whether all three could survive in the relatively small Scottish market long-term.
He added: “They are all efficient operations in comparison to their European-based counterparts.”
l Lufthansa has puts its first premium economy seats from Scotland up for sale. Passengers from Edinburgh and Aberdeen can sample the new seats, which offer 130° recline – the biggest in the industry – and 50 per cent more space on routes to destinations including Hong Kong and Singapore from December.
Etihad to launch daily nonstop Edinburgh-Abu Dhabi service
July 21, 2014 (eturbo news)
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will next year launch its first service from Scotland with the start of a nonstop daily flight from Edinburgh to its home base of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital city.
The new route, which will commence on 8 June 2015, will be operated with a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, offering a total of 22 seats in Business Class and 240 seats in Economy Class.
In addition to providing a direct connection between Edinburgh and Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub, the forthcoming service will enable passengers and cargo from Scotland to connect conveniently to Etihad Airways’ destinations across the Gulf region, Asia, Australia and Africa.
Edinburgh is Etihad Airways’ first Scottish destination, and its third departure point from the UK. It currently offers triple-daily flights from London, and double-daily flights from Manchester.
From the Gulf region Etihad will face Edinburgh competition from Qatar Airways who fly daily into Doha, and at Glasgow Etihad with its Dubai services. All connect at their hub airports to numerous destinations east and south
Qatar Airways makes Edinburgh its latest city in Europe
4.6.2014 (Anna Aero)