We’ve seen so many changes at Emirates of late, it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of everything that’s been going on. But while we’ve heard plenty of rumours (and leaked information from inside sources), official updates from senior figures have sometimes been hard to come by.
But at this years, Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany – a big industry event where aviation firms show off their latest innovations – Sir Tim Clark, longtime President of Emirates gave away some interesting bits of information about what’s being going on at the Dubai-based airline.
The good news is that the general picture seems to be looking good at the moment. Profits have been rising after Emirates took a financial beating in 2016 and Clark said that U.S. demand has now “rebounded” after sales slumped following restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.
But last week we did learn that Emirates plans to reduce the frequency of flights to some destinations during May and June. Flights to London Heathrow will be cut from six to five flights a day, while Bangkok will go from six to either five or four services per day. Other routes to see reductions will be Oslo, Kuala Lumpur and Hamburg.
Emirates to reduce U.S. services
Emirates’ services to the U.S. will also see reductions with Fort Lauderdale and Orlando going from once daily to a five per week service from July 2nd – only months after the airline increased capacity on the two routes.
The change prompted an Emirates spokesperson to explain that the reduction had been made as part of a “routine operational review” to ensure “capacity is deployed to best serve customer demand across our global network.”
The spokesperson went on to say: “We remain committed to our US operations and will continue to serve our 12 American gateways.” The airline recently announced that it would be upgrading its Houston service from a Boeing 777-300 to the much larger Airbus A380.
The airline is short of both pilots and cabin crew
Now, Clark has said the temporary reductions are being made because Emirates is “a tad short in pilots.” Clark estimated the airline was short of around 100 to 150 pilots and cabin crew shortages were also causing a problem.
Big recruitment campaigns for both pilots and cabin crew should alleviate those problems over the next few months, with Clark estimating that the carrier should be where it needs to be by September or October.
Elsewhere, the partnership with the low-cost carrier, flydubai has proven to be “energizing” – Clark says the new codeshares have produced “very good flows”. The two airlines now have codeshares to 81 destinations.
Rumours of a merger with Etihad Airways
Clark even had something to say about the rumours of Emirates merging with Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. That’s not something he envisages happening although the two airlines are “looking at all sorts of areas” where they can cooperate. Clark explained that there was “work going on behind the scenes” but there was only so much they could do.
In the end, though, Clark admitted that any decision to merge the airlines would rest with the leaders of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
A basic economy fare and premium economy could be coming soon
So how else could the Emirates experiences change in the near future? Clark gave an update on a ‘basic economy’ fare – a product that a number of premium airlines have already unveiled – Emirates is still reviewing what this could look like and it may still be coming to the airline.
Emirates might even announce a premium economy product at some point soon as well – although Clark thinks that might still be 18-months away.
And after eventually placing an order for more A380 superjumbo’s, Clark thinks Emirates might be exercising options to order even more, “sooner” rather than later.
Clark attributes a lot of the good news to economic growth in the U.S., United Kingdom and Germany. Oil prices have also been on the rise, which is helping the economy in the Gulf region.
In the past, Clark was never afraid to say when things weren’t going quite right for Emirates so these latest updates should be taken quite positively.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.