Emirates 777 deliveries to support new California flights still uncertain

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Emirates is planning a frequency ramp up on flights from Dubai to its newest destinations of Los Angeles and San Francisco in May, but delivery dates of Boeing 777-200LR aircraft to support the increases are uncertain.

The carrier was forced to launch service to both destinations offering three weekly flights instead of a planned five, and also pushed back launch dates due to a combination of problems with a galley supplier and the 57-day machinists strike at Boeing.

On 15 December after the touchdown of the inaugural flight from Dubai to San Francisco, carrier SVP commercial operations for the Americas Nigel Page said Emirates plans to boost flights on both routes to five weekly starting in May.

Speaking to ATI Page said Emirates could not specific delivery dates for the 777s, but noted the aircraft would be necessary for the expansion of service. Flight's ACAS database shows Emirates has six 777-200LRs in service and four on order.

Page says the Dubai-Los Angeles flights that began on 26 October are "already making money" and had average load factors of 92% last week.

The outbound flight to Dubai from San Francisco on 15 December also had a 92% load factor.

Premium bookings for the Los Angels and San Francisco flights remain strong, according to Page, who says the operating environment is different from the North Atlantic where so much capacity exists "carriers are desperate".

Emirates 777s used on those routes feature eight first class and 42 business class seats.

For 2009 Page expects Emirates to have fewer new routes and instead increase capacity in existing markets, noting that is the "sensible thing to do".