Emirates keeps upping the ante with the A380, this time to Moscow and Singapore and its intentions in Australia are no secret. It’s going to be A380s everywhere!Qantas has already said it will refer its first class passengers to Emirates services to SE Asian cities from Australia when it ends that level of service to Singapore under the announced ‘improvements’ that will follow the re-routing of the daily A380s from Sydney and Melbourne through Dubai rather than Singapore on their way to London under the transfer of parts of its international services to the UAE flag carrier.
Whatever will the top tier of Qantas customers do when this happens? If the political and business leaders who fly first class to Singapore on scheduled Qantas services now wish to continue to do so from the end of March, their Australian options will only exist as Virgin Australia code shares operated by Singapore Airlines (offering first suites in A380s and 777s) or Qantas code shares on Emirates from those Australian cities from which it currently offers 777s to the Changi hub or to other major Asia cities.
Of course, first class has been losing ground to corporate belt tightening and the vastly improved business class product offered on international services for several decades, not to mention private corporate jets. But the reality remains that if you are going to pay for the best Qantas can offer, out of a sense of patriotism, or loyalty, you are in the future, increasingly going to be offered a flight to important parts of the world on an Emirates code share if you wish to remain with a Qantas that being managed downwards amid unprecedented and sustained air travel growth.
Emirates has extended its A380 options to Moscow as well as Singapore this week, as part of its policy of building up frequencies with 777s and then replacing them with A380s to cater for growth. Some of the displaced 777 capacity is being used to grow its Petersburg flights from smaller Airbuses to the larger Boeing, with similar redeployments already announced elsewhere on its network.
From next Monday all five daily return flights between London Heathrow and Dubai will be operated by A380s, and from 1 January the A380 frequencies to Paris and New York rise to double daily, and the next announced increase in its use of the big Airbus to Australia will be to Perth in the second half of 2013, once the airport opens a dedicated A380 gate.
Emirates has 27 A380s in service today, but will add another four of them to its fleet by 31 December.
The game plan of Emirates, which has 130 of the A380 on order, has been to fly it to just about everywhere it currently operates smaller jets by early in the next or third decade of this century. It works this way. Air travel is growing, especially where Emirates chooses to fly. The more passengers it wins to the A380s the larger its market share and pricing power, giving the traffic flow through Dubai the critical mass required to develop additional routes or supplementary frequencies to be flown by its large fleet of 777s, and perhaps 777-Xs, in coming years.
It’s a model not without critics and naysayers. Who have been predicting its imminent failure since 1993, when Emirates was a small fraction of its current size.