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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 January 2019

Emirates to up flights to Europe and Africa as it prepares for runway closure

Dubai International Airport to shut southern runway for upgrade from April 16 to May 30

Emirates plane is damaged after being forced to suddenly brake due to an unauthorised vehicle on the runway in Cairo. AP
Emirates plane is damaged after being forced to suddenly brake due to an unauthorised vehicle on the runway in Cairo. AP

Emirates plans to add more flights to Africa and Europe while reducing capacity to some destinations in response to demand and to minimise the impact of a 45-day runway closure at Dubai International Airport.

The Dubai-based carrier will change its schedule starting in April and continue to take an "agile" approach to deploying aircraft throughout the year, Emirates said in a statement on Saturday. It will cut capacity to Perth and adjust its services in South America.

"The changes we are implementing to our network schedules in 2019 are in line with this approach, taking into consideration global market dynamics and operational limitations including the maintenance work on Dubai Airport’s southern runway," Tim Clark, Emirates' president, said. "Through the year, we will continue to keep a close watch on global markets and will maintain our flexibility to optimise the usage of our aircraft assets.”

The network changes come after Emirates warned the second half of its financial year through March-end will be "tough" when the airline reported an 86 per cent plunge in first-half profits in November. An increase in oil prices in 2018 from three-year lows inflated its jet fuel bill while the dollar strengthened, competition became stiffer and geopolitical instability continued.

Still, Emirates is tapping into opportunities for growth.

As part of network changes, it is adding more flights to five destinations in Africa from June to meet increased demand in these markets, it said. Emirates will increase capacity to Casablanca in Morocco, Abuja in Nigeria, Accra in Ghana, and the capitals of Guinea and Senegal.

Last month Emirates said it expanded an existing codeshare with South African Airlines in an agreement that would open up new destinations for both airlines' customers.

In the peak travel season leading up to and during the summer schedule, Emirates will increase flights to three European destinations and resume service to Zagreb in Croatia. Athens, Rome and Stokholm will see increased capacity.

To meet seasonal increase in demand to the US east coast, Emirates will deploy its flagship A380 to Boston between June 1 and September 30 and between December 1 and January 31 2020.

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It will deploy its double-decker to Glasgow for the first time between April 16 and May 31 that will replace the double daily Boeing 777 service during the Dubai Airport runway closure. From June 1 until September 30, Emirates will resume operating a double-daily service to Glasgow with one daily Boeing 777-300ER and one Airbus A380, offering additional capacity to meet increased travel demand during the summer season.

Emirates plans to reduce capacity on its service to Perth, a route currently operated with both Airbus A380 and a Boeing 777 jets, by operating only the double-decker once daily starting March 31. It will suspend flights between Bangkok and Sydney from June 1 and will continue serving Sydney non-stop three times daily.

The carrier will also scrap first-class service on its daily flights to Rio de Janeiro and offer instead its refurbished two-class Boeing 777-200LR from June 1.

Emirates will suspend its linked flight from Dubai to Santiago via Sao Paulo. However, it will continue to serve the Chilean capital via Rio de Janeiro and will serve Sao Paulo daily non-stop with an A380.

Emirates will cut the number of flights it operates by a quarter and ground up to 48 planes during the closure of Dubai airport's southern runway for 45 days starting April 16. The airline will cancel some flights, reschedule others and change the operating aircraft during the runway repairs.

Updated: January 12, 2019 05:08 PM

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