United Airlines will become only the second US carrier to fly directly to the UAE when it begins non-stop service between Washington, DC and Dubai on Oct 26. The route, linking the US capital with one of the Gulf's commercial hot spots, will be United's only new destination this year and just its second to the Middle East region overall, after Kuwait. United, the fourth-largest airline in the world, will fly seven times a week using a Boeing 777-200ER between Washington Dulles International Airport and Dubai International Airport.
In addition to first, business and economy classes, United offers an Economy Plus service which features an extra 13 centimetres of legroom over standard economy, or what it says is the equivalent of 30 per cent more personal space. DNATA, the Dubai reservations system owned by Emirates Group, has been appointed general sales agent. "Clearly what we have been seeing is the growing demand for corporate business travel to the Middle East region," said Marcel Fuchs, the managing director of sales for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India at United. "We as a company need to follow the needs of the big corporate global accounts."
Currently, only Qatar Airways flies directly to Washington, DC from its base in Doha. United's economy-class fares from Dubai to Washington are Dh3,220 (US$877) including taxes, while business seats cost Dh13,990. United offers a network of 80 destinations in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean out of its hub in Washington DC. Economy fares from Dubai to San Francisco via Dulles, for example, would be Dh3,640 in economy and Dh18,100 in business. US and European carriers have been keen to increase their international service as the credit crisis, slumping economic growth and high fuel prices have slackened demand domestically. Even as US domestic demand has slowed, international routes have grown. The International Air Transport Association said international passenger traffic from North American airlines grew 5.2 per cent in August, up from 4.3 per cent growth in July. The new route follows similar moves by Lufthansa, which said it would increase its service between Frankfurt and Abu Dhabi by flying non-stop six days a week, also from Oct 26. United flights from Dubai depart at 11:30pm each day and arrive the following morning after a 15-hour journey. The flight east to Dubai takes almost 13 hours. The first flight from Dubai will depart Oct 27, a day after its inaugural service from Washington, DC. In May last year, Delta Air Lines became the first US carrier to serve the Gulf with a service five times a week from Atlanta, Georgia, to Dubai, shortly after emerging from bankruptcy protection. This year, Delta, United and other major US carriers have slashed domestic capacity and laid off thousands of staff as the price of fuel climbed to record highs and a gathering economic storm hobbled the airlines' ability to raise new financing.