Emirates is indignant about the oft-repeated claim by Air New Zealand and Qantas that it is dumping capacity on trans-Tasman routes between Australia and New Zealand.

Emirates president Tim Clark recently told Airline Business that there was no excess capacity on the Tasman when Emirates launched flights several years ago. If there are too many seats now, he blames other airlines. "Go back and see what the capacity was when New Zealand gave us open skies four years ago. If there is too much now, is that our fault?"

Emirates operates one daily flight each direction from several Australian gateways to Auckland and Christchurch, using aircraft that would otherwise sit idle in Australia between their morning arrival from Dubai and their return to Dubai in the evening.

Clark concedes that Emirates is "competitive on prices" across the Tasman, but he also insists: "We've done a fair job and the routes make money for us."

To underscore his point that Emirates will only operate profitable routes across the Tasman, Clark points out that Emirates dropped its Melbourne-Christchurch service last year because of poor returns.

Critics claim that Emirates only tries to cover its marginal costs on the Tasman, so its breakeven load factor is artificially low. According to Emirates, its trans-Tasman loads average between 50% and 60%.

Air New Zealand and Qantas justify their proposed codeshare across the Tasman as a needed response to excess capacity dumped on the route, largely by Emirates. They hope to use that codeshare as a way to jointly regulate their own capacity and fares. Their proposal is now under review by Australia's competition commission and New Zealand's transport minister.

Emirates is seeking more flights from Dubai to Australia (see related story on page 31), but Clark says his airline has no plans to extend those additional flights on from Australia across the Tasman to New Zealand. ■

Source: Airline Business