One year on from its launch, Emirates Airline has confirmed it will significantly boost capacity on its link between Dubai and Barcelona from February next year when it replaces the Boeing 777-300ER that currently serves the route with one of its Airbus A380s. The revised fleet deployment will see capacity on the route increase by almost 44 per cent from February 1, 2014.
This announcement marks the first permanent A380 service to operate into Barcelona El Prat Airport and will boost weekly seat availability by 2,198 seats once the A380 enters operation. Emirates has previously served Barcelona twice with its A380 with special one-off flights on February 24, 2013 and March 1, 2013 to showcase the aircraft.
"Barcelona has been one of the most successful new destinations of 2012," said Hubert Frach, Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations West, Emirates Airline. "In line with this steady growth we feel that the time is ripe to announce the launch of our A380 service, which will continue to connect customers in Spain with Dubai as well as key destinations in Australasia, the Indian Subcontinent and the Far East.”
Emirates arrived in the Spanish market rather late in its evolution and only launched flights to the country in 2010, but it has seen a tremendous response to its operations. In the first seven months of its Barcelona operations it had carried over 113,000 passengers and it believes the upgraded capacity will also offer strengthened support for popular markets from Barcelona, notably 12 destinations in Australia and the Far and Middle East. It also believes the A380 will help further stimulate demand.
"The A380 has been a part of our fleet for almost five years and continues to peak customer interest wherever it flies. Introducing the A380 to Barcelona permanently will not only increase our capacity but will also further highlight our commitment to the city," added Frach. Like many destinations across its network Emirates has been quick to tie-in sponsorship packages and marketing to strengthen its brand and in Barcelona this has a five year sponsorship of the Barcelona Open Tennis Tournament.
Emirates has A380s in a mix of different configurations but confirms its most dense arrangement offering 517-seats in a three-class arrangement will be utilised on the Barcelona route. This offers 14 Private First Class Suites, 76 lie-flat beds in Business Class and 427 seats in Economy Class.
As the world’s largest operator of the double-decker aircraft, Emirates’ fleet of 35 A380s serves 21 destinations including: Jeddah, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Moscow, Rome, Seoul, London Heathrow, Melbourne, Munich, Beijing, Sydney, Auckland, Manchester, Tokyo, Paris, Toronto and New York. Alongside Barcelona, a further four destinations will be added to the network over the next six months, comprising Brisbane from October 1, 2013; Los Angeles from December 2, 2013; Mauritius from December 16, 2013 and Zurich from January 1, 2014.
According to MIDT data, Emirates carried an estimated 107,000 passengers on its flights between Dubai and Barcelona during the second half of 2012 (its first six months of operation). Approximately 36 per cent of these were point-to-point travellers with the rest connecting in Dubai to other destinations in the Emirates network. The ten most popular destinations for these passengers, according to the statistics, were Tokyo Narita, Seoul Incheon, Hong Kong, Sydney, Jakarta, Bangkok, Melbourne, Singapore, Shanghai and Osaka.