Emirates expects reducing demand for domestic flights to Heathrow, as regional airports increase long-haul routes

The Times reports comments by Laurie Berryman, of Emirates, predicting that the demand for domestic flights in the UK will drop markedly in future. He considers that flights between London and Manchester could end altogether within ten years, because of HS2.  The demand for internal flights is reducing each year, except for trips that take too long by train, such as to Glasgow, Edinburgh or further north in Scotland.  This combines with the increase in long-haul flights from regional airports. Passengers in the regions have no desire to transfer via Heathrow, but would rather go direct.  Or they are happy to transfer in Dubai or another airport – not necessarily via Heathrow.  The HS2 rail line may be able to connect Manchester to London in under an hour and a quarter, which is about the same time as flying.  Virgin’s Little Red domestic airline closed in 2015, due to insufficient demand for its flights into Heathrow.  Mr Berryman said: “People who live in Manchester who want to go to Mumbai go via Dubai, not via London.”  If Heathrow got another runway, it  would damage the profitability of long haul flights from the regional airports. If it does not have another runway, its slots are too valuable to use on domestic routes. Emirates is increasing its long haul routes from Manchester and Birmingham.


Cancelled: all domestic flights in the UK

By Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent  (The Times)
May 9 2016,


Flights between London and Manchester could end altogether within ten years because of HS2

Domestic flights in Britain will all but disappear over the next decade because of falling demand, a senior airline boss has warned.

Laurie Berryman, UK vice-president of Emirates, said that existing routes would continue to be squeezed because of a lack of space at Heathrow, combined with the rise of long-haul flights directly from regional airports.


Full Times article at 




Emirates Airbus takes off from Birmingham as demand increases


Birmingham Post 

Airline strengthens its commitment to the Midlands with first ever daily A380 service.

Emirates, a global connector of people, places and economies, welcomed its iconic Airbus A380 to Birmingham Airport yesterday. The airline’s inaugural flight on its new daily A380 service from Dubai touched down at 12:20pm.

This is the first time that the double-decker aircraft will operate a regular service from the airport, with the A380 replacing the Boeing 777 on the daily EK39/40 service. Emirates will now offer three daily flights to Dubai from Birmingham, with the A380 complementing the two already existing 777 services on the route. The introduction of the A380 increases daily capacity between the Midlands and Dubai by 15%, with a total of 1,471 seats now available every day.


Passengers flying from the Midlands with Emirates can travel to Dubai and beyond, across an ever expanding global network. New destinations launched by Emirates include Yangon, Hanoi and Bologna. Popular destinations on the Emirates network from Birmingham include Dubai, Bangkok, Mauritius, Hong Kong and Delhi.

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Virgin scraps its unsuccessful, loss-making “Little Red” domestic services from 2015

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to scrap its heavily loss-making domestic airline, Little Red, after just over 18 months. It has struggled to fill seats on its services linking Heathrow with Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, and finally admitted defeat after weeks of speculation. Virgin’s daily services to Manchester will end in March 2015, while the Scottish services will cease next September 2015. Little Red, which was operated by Aer Lingus for Virgin on a “wet lease”, ie with the Irish airline’s planes and crew in Virgin colours, could never make money. It was started in March 2013 after competition authorities made BA relinquish Heathrow slots for domestic flying, in the wake of BA’s takeover of bmi. Its aim was to feed in passengers from the regions, to make Virgin’s long haul Heathrow flights more profitable. However, instead most passengers were just on point-to-point flights. Richard Branson complains that the slots they had for Little Red were inadequate. Its load factor was around 30 – 35%, which was about the lowest in the whole industry. Virgin Atlantic has made losses for years, requiring cuts in flights to (business?) destinations to focus on the profitable tourist ones to North America.



Airlines like Emirates keen to fly from regional airports – reducing future demand at Heathrow and Gatwick

Heathrow Airport has been saying recently that, though it is desperate to get a third runway, even they realise that there is not the demand for a 4th runway. The DfT has consistently over-estimated the amount of passenger demand over the last decade.  In reality, passengers from parts of the UK other than the south east can get long haul flights from regional airports. The UK Vice President of Emirates says he wants to expand flights from UK’s regional airports, rather than Heathrow or Gatwick, and has a direct flight from Newcastle to Dubai, for transfers on from there.  With that happening more and more in future, the south east airports’ dreams for expansion in the south east, requiring a massive hub airport, look less and less probable. Forecasts more than a few years ahead are based on so many uncertainties and unknowns as to be almost without value. Making best use of existing airports is more efficient than grandiose new infrastructure projects which run the risk of being white elephants. Had a second Stansted runway been built by 2012, it would now be standing idle.