Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER (38982/830) A6-ECX departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on March 21, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
In the U.S., it is typically the low fare, low cost carriers, starting with Southwest, that are most closely associated with specific types of aircraft.
Not so in Dubai.
As it has grown rapidly into the world’s biggest international airline in terms of revenue passenger miles (or revenue passenger kilometers), Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has relied primarily on the Boeing 777, and secondarily on the Airbus A380. It is the world’s biggest operator of both aircraft.
A month ago, Emirates took delivery of three 777s on a single day, bringing its total to 150 including 13 freighters. (The cargo fleet also includes two Boeing 747s).
Of the 777s, 107 are 777-300 extended range seating 354 to 427 passengers. As of Sept. 3, Emirates’ 777s had flown 859,053 flights.
The carrier also has 65 Airbus A-380s. Additionally, it has orders for 196 Boeing 777s and 73 A380s.
The Emirates strategy has been to establish a global hub in the Mideast and to connect passengers from throughout the world, particularly passengers from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the U.S. The strategy requires a fleet of long-haul aircraft.
Frach said the carrier takes advantage of Dubai’s location: two thirds of the world’s population lives within four hours by air, and three quarters of the world’s population is within eight hours by air.
Additionally, he noted, throughout the world people “are becoming more affluent in terms of buying air travel. “
But you need the right aircraft. The 777 “is a very reliable aircraft in terms of size, configuration and performance parameters. It can fly almost 17 hours, and its on-time reliability is 99.5%,” said Frach, who previously headed global marketing for Lufthansa.
In a prepared statement, Tim Clark, Emirates president, said “The Boeing 777 makes up the majority of our fleet, and gives us the range and flexibility to provide non-stop services to almost any city within a 16 hour flying range of our hub in Dubai.”
Emirates serves 147 destinations in 79 countries, including 98 destinations served by the 777. It serves 10 U.S cities including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. It also operates a Milan-JFK route and a cargo route to Atlanta.
On Sept. 3, Emirates began Dubai-Orlando service with an A380; on Oct. 1 it added a second daily Dubai-Boston 777 flight.
Emirates’ strategy has become controversial not only because of its own rapid expansion but also because of the similar, duplicative strategies employed by Mideast competitors Etihad and Qatar.
Particularly rapid U.S growth has prompted American, Delta and United to respond by calling attention to the government subsidies that have enabled it and have violated Open Skies policies.
(The Gulf carriers deny that they receive subsidies.)
Emirates notes that flying Boeing aircraft creates thousands of U.S. jobs, not just at Boeing but also related jobs. The US Department of Commerce has estimated that 5,359 U.S. jobs are created for every one billion dollars in value of U.S. export goods.
Boeing is the biggest U.S. exporter, and also one of the leading U.S. lobbyists, given its importance not only to commercial aviation but also to defense. For obvious reasons, however, Boeing has taken no position on the ongoing battle over subsidies to Mideast carriers, which pits one group of its customers against another group of its customers. Boeing’s position has been described as “aggressively neutral.”
Still, it’s hard not to like a customer whose business strategy is so closely tied to one of your products.
(Ted Reed - Forbes)