Published on Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Emirates eyes tilt at the transatlantic

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, speaking to trade publication Buying Business Travel, 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.

Emirates in October will launch flights from Dubai to New York via Milan and Berryman hinted that 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.

"We do hold some rights out of the regions, so I would never say never," he said.

"One of the things we are keen to say to the Davies Commission [UK Airports Commission], to relieve pressure on the south-east, is why don't we make all the regional airports completely open skies, so anyone can fly anywhere.

"Heathrow sits in the south of England, but Manchester has a bigger catchment area in terms of a two-hour drive."

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said there was 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,

Ahmed said if the Dubai carrier went through with the plan British Airways and Virgin Atlantic would be "the big losers".

An Emirates spokesperson told TravelMole: "We have no immediate plans to operate a direct service between the UK and US."

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