Emirates considers direct flights to the USA from UK northern airports, not Heathrow
Dubai’s Emirates Airline is interested in getting into the competitive transatlantic market, and offer flights from Dubai to the US via the UK. This market is currently dominated by BA, Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. Emirates will need to get regulatory approval first. Emirates believes there is strong unmet demand for flights from the north of England to the USA and last year carried 800,000 passengers on its routes in and out of its hubs in the north of England: Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham. There are growing numbers of Emirates passengers and services from these northern UK airports. In October, Emirates will launch flights from Dubai to New York via Milan. Their UK vice president said they are asking the Airports Commission to look at making all the regional airports completely open skies, so anyone can fly anywhere. If they use the northern airports, there is less pressure on the south east airports, and less rationale for building another runway. “Heathrow sits in the south of England, but Manchester has a bigger catchment area in terms of a two-hour drive.” If Emirates goes through with the plan BA and Virgin will be the big losers.
Emirates has UK-US rights, and might fly them with A380s
Way back in the 80s and 90s, when the freshly hatched Emirates airlines tended to get patronised by the airline establishment, a set of traffic treaties were negotiated or extended between HMG and the UAE in which British Airways was secured ‘beyond rights’ through Dubai to other cities in Asia and even Australia in return for reciprocal yet conditional rights to major as well as secondary cities in Great Britain.
It was rather like the you-can-fly-anywhere-but-Sydney deals Australia was happy to negotiate with starry eyed Middle East and Asia carriers in order to pander to demands for more international flights by the likes of Perth or Cairns tourism lobbyists while ensuring that the airlines Australians were comfortable with, such as Alitalia, Lufthansa, KLM and of course, world beating Qantas, had ex-colonial outposts to land at for refueling and the odd rich expatriate or diplomatic travel account customer to pick up or set down.
The evolution of those rights into something far more generous in line with the reality of growing trade ties with the Middle East, saw the interests of the Trade Department in Canberra rapidly overtake and sideline the protests from Qantas about ‘unfetted’ access to upstarts like Emirates and Gulf (which was to fail in this market) while the likes of European legacies took fright and fled the scene.
Back in the UK, no-one in Whitehall ever imagined, until it was too late, that the trinket of beyond rights to toy Middle East carriers to cities on the far side of the Atlantic mattered a damn, compared to the access of UK carriers to mysterious and exotic parts to the east of the Gulf of Arabia.
But that day has arrived. Emirates thrived beyond the wildest expectations of the European and UK legacies, and Dubai became a major maritime and aviation hub, connecting the Indian sub continent as well as the Middle and Far East including Australia and New Zealand, to working class centres like Manchester and Birmingham with well appointed airliners which legacy bound British Airways insisted on trying to serve via Heathrow, or Gatwick, or for the truly wicked, both Heathrow and Gatwick via an awesomely miserable coach connection.
Which is why the UK is today contemplating reports like this in the Travel Mole.
To be fair, the report does glide over more than a few bumps in the regulatory road to flights by A380s between Manchester and Miami or Birmingham and Boston, not to mention Manhattan. It will not be as easy as the report makes it sound, but as Emirates doing Milan-NYC has proved, such flights are far from impossible.
The UAE today has things that UK trade interests need, including rich customers, and the UK has things Emirates wouldn’t mind getting a slice of in return, such as those hopeless North Atlantic routings British Airways once thought could be left to the successors to Laker Airways, or maybe those funny chaps at Virgin Atlantic.
Meanwhile those who have wondered how Emirates could possibly employ the capacity of more than 100 A380s, more than 100 Boeing 777s, and some 70 forthcoming Airbus A350s, the answer is as hub busters (yet from the airline with the world’s first truly non-stop to almost anywhere hub) and as a means of leveraging international trade access to the Middle East and central Asia.
Emirates Airline eyes UK to US direct flights
Dubai’s Emirates Airline has not ruled out entering the competitive transatlantic market, currently dominated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and offer flights from Dubai to the US via the UK.
Emirates’ UK vice president Laurie Berryman said the Dubai carrier has seen “strong demand” and last year carried 800,000 passengers on its routes in and out of its hubs in the north of England.
“Glasgow is double daily and we upped the aircraft size. Newcastle went from an Airbus to a B777, so we are growing capacity there as well. Birmingham is twice daily, and one of the Manchester flights is an A380, with the other two being B777s,” Berryman was quoted as saying in an interview with trade publication Buying Business Travel.
Emirates in October will launch flights from Dubai to New York via Milan and Berryman hinted, if it could gain regulatory approval, it might not be long before the carrier enters the transatlantic market and offers flights from Dubai to the US via northern England.
The transatlantic market is dominated by the likes of UK carriers British Airways and Virgin Atlantic and US players Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. Aviation analyst Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said there is still obvious demand in the market for Emirates to capitalise on.
“With Emirates carrying over 800,000 passengers out of just four UK regional hubs, it is evident that there is more than enough brisk demand to launch direct flights to the USA from cities that the likes of BA do not operate long haul services from and that too would raise the appeal of Emirates.
“Emirates could flood the North Atlantic with swathes of Airbus A380s and 777-300ERs out of places like Birmingham and Manchester, two cities which are bursting with pent up passenger demand, tempered only by the lack of long haul airlines operating there, particularly for Birmingham,” he said, adding that if the Dubai carrier goes through with the plan “British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will be the big losers.”