By Steve Creedy www.theaustralian.com.au
EMIRATES expects plenty of demand for its third daily Sydney flight when it returns to service with a bigger plane in October.
The returning flight will bring Emirates to 70 flights a week, still short of the 84 it is entitled to fly to the nation’s restricted airports.
“It will be good to get the flight back in and it will be particularly good to put it back on a bigger aircraft as well,” said Emirates senior vice-president of commercial operations, Far East & Australasia, Richard Jewsbury during a visit to Sydney this week. “We always had strong demand for that flight. It had a good connecting profile . . . not only in the Middle East but up into Europe.
“And, indeed, we’ve got Geneva opening in June and Copenhagen in August, so our European network will stand at 27 online points by then.”
Mr Jewsbury said growth to Dubai had also been good as it had matured as a destination in recent years, despite the GFC and some of the associated bad press.
He said the airline was pleased with demand to and from Australia, which had been helped by the high Australian dollar and the fact that fares were attractive in real terms.
“At the moment the business does seem to be growing rapidly, whether that’s high-yield leisure or pure business-related traffic,” he said. “Certainly, the front of the cabin both in terms of first and business is experiencing very strong year-on-year growth at the moment and, I think it’s fair to say, probably outperforming the economy slightly.”
In terms of Australian expansion, Mr Jewsbury said Emirates remained focused on its current four gateways and would continue to work on those ports.
He said Adelaide, long mooted as an Emirates destination, would continue to be serviced from Melbourne.
The Dubai-based juggernaut releases its financial results next week and expects a solid result despite high fuel prices.
Its continued growth has prompted the construction at Dubai International Airport of a $US1.17 billion ($1.09bn) third concourse that will boost capacity to more than 80 million people a year. The concourse is due for completion late next year.
Asked about Qantas criticism of Emirates, Mr Jewsbury said the airline was commercially run and published audited annual reports and accounts.
He said many of Emirates’ destinations were not serviced by Australian carriers and it continued to provide outbound options and capacity from a business, leisure and freight perspective. It also advertised Australia in many ports not touched by Australian carriers.
“We are operated commercially and therefore I think it’s good and fair competition,” he said. “I think it’s up to the customer to decide.”