Is There Anywhere Emirates Won’t Fly? 100 New Destinations by 2025
The rapid expansion of the three major Persian Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad Airways & Qatar Airways) is one of the most frequently discussed topics in airline news these days. It seems like every week the big three are announcing new destinations or ordering dozens of widebody aircraft. At the same time, the three major U.S. airlines (Delta, United & American) are crying foul, accusing the Gulf carriers of receiving subsidies from their governments that allow them to continue to operate what would otherwise be unsustainable business models. Ever since the debate between the two groups of airlines really heated up earlier this year, it seems like the three Gulf carriers have become even more aggressive in their expansion into the United States and the rest of the world. Emirates announced that they would begin service from Dubai to Orlando, Florida and would upgrade the aircraft used on their "fifth freedom" route from New York-JFK to Milan, Italy to the flagship A380, the largest airliner in the world. Etihad Airways announced that they will also deploy their A380s, complete with first class "apartments" and "residences", on flights from Abu Dhabi to New York. Just last month, Qatar Airways announced their biggest expansion into the United States to date with new nonstop flights from Doha to Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles as well as a second daily flight to New York City. Obviously, there are two opposing sides to the argument as to whether the Gulf carriers are allowed to continue unprofitable operations due to direct investment from their home governments. What one can't argue about is the fact that the airlines, especially Emirates, fly to several destinations that don't commonly receive long-haul international flights. Such cities include Lyon, France; Nice, France; Bologna, Italy; Malta; Christchurch, New Zealand; Newcastle, England and several others. Whether this is a result of "unfair" subsidies or simply a business capitalizing on under-served markets is up for debate. One question remains though: Is there really anywhere that Emirates won't fly? During the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) annual meeting this week, Emirates' President Tim Clark announced his intentions for yet another unprecedented global expansion of his airline. He announced that he plans to move all of the airline's operations to the brand-new Al Maktoum Dubai World Central Airport (DWC) by 2025. Other than his plans to double the size of the Emirates fleet, which already consists of about 250 all-widebody aircraft (with confirmed orders for about 300 more), he stated that he plans on beginning service to 100 new destinations. You read that right: ONE HUNDRED NEW DESTINATIONS. Clark specifically talked about flying to "third level cities" and "towns" across the globe. I can't even begin to imagine which small/regional airports are going to gain a long-haul flight to Dubai. But hey, the good news is that my home airport in Rochester, New York will soon have a real international flight [sarcasm]. The Paris Air Show at Le Bourget kicks off in a few days. The event usually features huge announcements from several major global airlines on new destinations, aircraft orders and other exciting developments. With all six of the feuding airlines in attendance, you can expect things to get very interesting. What destinations do you think are next for Emirates?