Emirates is well known to be bucking the trends and growing through a recession - and the Middle Eastern connectivity giant seems not even lightly fazed by the economic crisis. The mega carrier has just announced its expansion into three strategically important destinations, building on its momentum of recent A380 upgrades to Moscow
Adeliade, ADL - Australia
The South Australian city has been an omission from the Emirates' network for a long time - and Emirates seems keen to fill the gap in the face of increased emphasis into Down Under from its two Middle Eastern rivals - Etihad and Qatar. Emirates' Adelaide flights will start on 1st November, with four weekly flights and on board a Boeing 777-300ER - somewhat unusual for a new route and which itself proves the strategic importance which this route holds for Emirates. The service would then be increased to daily effective 1st February 2013. The aircraft choice and the expansion plan signals its incumbent Adelaide competitors such as Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines that they well be prepared for an impending price war for connections out of Europe and the Middle Eastern regions.
EK440 DXB ADL 0155 2045
EK441 ADL DXB 2245 0525+1
Lyon, LYS - France
Somewhat the 'odd-kid' in the list, but perhaps the least surprising to long-time observers of EK's network strategy, the addition of this eastern France destination signals the next phase of Emirates' network development. The medium-sized French airport, Lyon, that had been long ignored by Air France had been very keen to bring in a long haul carrier that will offer it a wide-array of connections beyond Europe.A fierce battle fought with some of the other regional airports finally sees Lyon claiming the victory of the first French regional airport to secure a long haul airline. And it is not without mutual benefits to Emirates either - Lyon presents a high yielding market with a very good long term potential to build on. And clearly reflecting the very intentions, Emirates will be launching service on 5th December with a five times weekly Airbus A340-500 service. Lyon will become Emirates' third destination in France, after Paris and Nice.
EK81 DXB LYS 1435 1900 x47
EK82 LYS DXB 2055 0615+1 x47
Warsaw, WAW - Poland
A much anticipated addition to the Emirates' route portfolio, this more vibrant European economy symbolizes Emirates next expansion phase - niche secondary destinations to build a long term presence in. The addition of Warsaw also completes an important geographical expansion into Europe for EK, where it now is serving almost all key parts of the continent. Emirates plans for Warsaw seem aggressive and yet very realistic. Its daily service shows its keen intention to develop connections into all parts of its network, while the initial equipment choice of an Airbus A330-200 shows not only that it is not over-estimating the market potential but also that it is willing to capture the lower end of the market with discounted fares. Emirates' outgoing A330 fleet is a very good tool for precisely the same tactic - with a good seat count offering lower unit costs, and a less-modern product suitable for a market that tends to be somewhat lower yielding for the longer hauls. Yet do not surprised to see Emirates upgrade this route to a Boeing 777 in the not-so-distant future. The entry of Emirates' should be treated a considerable risk for LOT Polish Airlines, whose expansion plans into Asia now face a very strong challenge to retain a sustainable fare advantage.
EK179 DXB WAW 0730 1045
EK180 WAW DXB 1350 2215
And to add to that, Emirates would also increase its strong presence in Perth to 19 weekly flights - up from the present 14 - effective 1st December. This would then be further increased to three daily flights from 1st March. Emirates has built a solid business case for Perth having well leveraged its first mover advantage and has turned the isolated Western Australian city into a significant source of feed for the rest of its network. The latest expansion plan shows that EK is not willing to loosen that grip and is appearing to be interested in the sustainable path of building the demand, instead of simply adding excessive capacity to stimulate the market through discounted promotional initiatives that will have a short-term impact on the yield of the rest of its network.