United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier, Emirates Airline will take advantage of the closure by United Airlines of its Washington – Dubai route to increase its own capacity on the route from the start of next month, a market supported by strong passenger flows to and from the Indian sub-continent.
The US major revealed in early December last year that it will cancel its flights on the route from the end of this month, meaning no US carrier will fly direct to the Gulf region from the end of this winter schedule.
The move followed the award of a government contract to transport an estimated 15,000 US government employees between Washington and Dubai to JetBlue Airways and its codeshare partner, Emirates.
The Gulf carrier has now modified its schedule listing for the route and from February 1, 2016 and will switch operation from a Boeing 777-300ER to a three-class Airbus A380 increasing daily capacity by 38 per cent.
Emirates launched operations between its Dubai International Airport hub and Washington’s Dulles International Airport in September 2012 initially utilising a 777-200LR, but switching to the larger 777-300ER from February 2013.
Over the first six months of last year, Emirates carried an estimated 100,000 passengers on the city pair, an estimated 530 passengers a day and an average sector load of approximately 71.6 per cent, according to MIDT data.
Analysis of MIDT data shows just 16.1 per cent of demand during this six month period was local traffic, with transfer traffic via Dubai accounting for a massive 81.9 per cent of passengers (including 1.2 per cent in bridge traffic also connecting via Washington).
The largest origin and destination markets were in the Indian sub-continent with seven of the top eight being in this area, including the three largest: Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai, all in India. The others included Dhaka in Bangladesh, Kathmandu in Nepal and the Indian cities of Bangalore and Chennai. Together these seven destinations accounted for around 105 passengers per day.
The US is an important market for Emirates and it has carried more than eleven million passengers on its service in and out of the country since launching flights to New York in 2004. It currently serves ten US gateways from Dubai – Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, as well as operating a Transatlantic route between New York and the Italian city of Milan and a freighter service to Atlanta.
This year Emirates will offer over two million passenger seats into the US market for the first time as a result of its recent network changes, according to OAG schedule data. More capacity is being offered from Dubai to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle versus last year, while Orlando will see its first full year of operation.
The airline last week revealed it would introduce a second daily flight between Dubai and Los Angeles to be operated by an A380 (see ‘Emirates goes doubles daily to Los Angeles from July 2016’), a type it already utilises on its existing rotation and on flights between Dubai and Dallas, Houston, New York and San Francisco.