Emirate’s growth from Newcastle “will defy recession”

30.6.2009   (Northern Echo)

by Deborah Johnson

AIRLINE Emirates is defying the widespread downturn in the aviation sector to
see significant year-on-year growth in passenger and cargo levels on its flights
from the North- East.

The Dubai-based carrier, which launched its daily service from Newcastle International
Airport to the Middle East in September 2007, has recently carried its 250,000th
passenger between the two destinations, as well as its three millionth ton of

Last week saw the biggest cargo shipment ever carried from the North-East aboard
a passenger aircraft, with 13,800kg shipped to Dubai, including a massive shipment of chemicals from Teesside destined for the emirate.

And Emirates told The Northern Echo the levels of growth seen during the past
few months – despite the economic downturn crippling other airlines – will continue,
with growth of at least ten per cent in year-on-year booking levels between July
and September.

However, Laurie Berryman, Emirates Northern UK manager, said that although the
route is one of the strongest in the airline’s portfolio, plans to upgrade the
aircraft from an Airbus 330-200 model to a Boeing 777 have been put on hold until
the economy stabilises.

Mr Berryman said the route is proving popular for both tourism and trade, and
that onward travel from Dubai to destinations including Australia, Thailand and
Malaysia is soaring beyond expectations.

"We are very pleased with how things are going.

"We’ve had a very strong April, May and June, and things are looking very promising
for July to September," he said.

"The route is proving very popular for both tourism and trade. Not only are people
staying in Dubai, they’re going on to other places from there – Australia and
Bangkok for example, but places like Mauritius and Kuala Lumpur are also proving
popular destinations for North-East tourists.

"Trading links are doing very well, with all kinds of cargo being carried – in
one shipment just last week, we had a significant amount of chemicals being carried
from Teesside to Dubai, and also on board the same flight were fresh North-East
lobsters destined for Hong Kong. It really does show the wide variety of trading
and business links which are being strengthened as a result of this route."

Mr Berryman said that although plans to upgrade the aircraft used on the route
are still in place – in a move that would increase passenger numbers per flight
from 278 to 330 – it has been put on hold for the minute.

"Although the airline continues to perform well despite what is happening in
the economy, I think it is wise to put expansion plans on hold.

"Once we come out of the other side of the recession, it will be something we
will most certainly look at again," he said.