x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Emirates puts A380 back on New York route

Emirates Airline's flagship A380 "superjumbo" helps to lift the world's largest airline's capacity to the US by half.

Emirates Airline's flagship A380 "superjumbo" made a return to the Dubai-New York route yesterday, helping to lift the world's largest airline's capacity to the US by half.

US authorities have welcomed the new capacity from Emirates, which includes the recent launch of twice-daily flights to Houston and Los Angeles, in contrast with the stance of nations such as Canada, Germany and France, where governments have blocked access to the Dubai-based carrier.

"Aviation is a key catalyst for stimulating economic activity," said Nigel Page, the carrier's senior vice president of commercial operations for the Americas and Africa.

"With Emirates now operating 49 flights per week to four American gateways, our new services will generate a raft of benefits for trade, commerce and tourism."

Officials from LA International Airport embarked on a three-stop roadshow in the Gulf last month to pitch for more business from Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

A 2007 study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation found one long-haul flight a day to the airport generates $623.5 million (Dh2.28 billion) in annual economic benefits, sustains 3,120 jobs in southern California and produces $156m in annual wages.

Houston estimated that before the latest round of extra flights, Emirates contributed direct and indirect economic benefits of more than $300m for the area each year.

Similar benefits are expected for Emirates's reintroduction of the A380 into New York. The aircraft, which seats 489 passengers in its three-class configuration, was replaced with the smaller Boeing 777 aircraft during the global downturn due to lower demand.

Elsewhere, the big Gulf carriers and their governments have been locked in a struggle for further market access in countries with vulnerable flag carriers, such as Canada.

Emirates wants to build its three flights a week to Toronto into 21 weekly services across three Canadian gateway cities but has been blocked by the Canadian government in a long-running battle that has escalated into a diplomatic dispute.

Canada spent an estimated $300m after it was asked to vacate a military airbase in Dubai, which it had used for logistical operations into Afghanistan.

While the Canadian government has protected Air Canada, lobbying efforts by Emirates have included sponsoring a report by a transport consultant. It found that if Emirates was allowed to set up new flights to more Canadian cities, it would lead to $480m in annual economic benefits and more than 2,800 direct and spin-off jobs for the country.

An additional 274,927 passengers would travel through Canada annually, with most of the economic benefit coming in the form of tourism, new business activity and taxes.

The US is a major trade partner with the UAE and airlines have been keen to expand air links between the two countries to capture the rise in passenger and air cargo movement. Since Emirates launched flights to New York in 2004, trade between the US and the UAE almost tripled to reach $12.7bn in the 12 months to June, the airline said.

More than 750 US companies have set up offices in Dubai and 400,000 business and leisure travellers from the US visited the emirate last year. There has been a 23 per cent increase over the past three years in the number of travellers arriving from the US.

As a result, both Emirates and Etihad are targeting more non-stop services to the world's largest economy.

Emirates is planning to add up to four destinations in the US over the next five years, in addition to its services to New York, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Over the next five years, Etihad expects to fly to two or three more US destinations in addition to existing services to New York and Chicago. Possible choices include Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

igale@thenational.ae