Who was this telling my colleagues at Airline Business less than a year ago that the legacy Gulf carriers wouldn’t be among those developing low-cost carriers in the region? “The low-cost market is almost 100% point to point. We have a network.” And adding that Emirates plans to stick with an all-widebody fleet.Why that would be executive vice-president operations Ghaith al Ghaith, newly appointed to head Dubai’s low-cost airline project. This, as the Dubai government rather tied itself in knots explaining, is not part of Emirates. Fair enough.
In the same Airline Business article last May, James Rigney, vice president at Emirates’ indecently close rival Etihad in Abu Dhabi said a low-cost unit “has not been considered”. Bet it is now though.
Mark Pilling at Airline Business thinks Ghaith al Ghaith is being lined up to head Emirates one day. Maybe, maybe – what is for sure is that there are few more important management priorities at Emirates than succession planning. Somehow the leap has to be made from Flanagan, Clarke et al to a new generation of leaders. It’s no criticism to say that the transition will probably mark the airline’s most vulnerable period.