Dubai’s Australia traffic will not be impacted by Qantas suspension as Emirates expands to fill the void

Dubai International Airport does not expect any impact from Qantas’ suspension of services to Dubai as Emirates is expanding in Australia to fill the void.

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told CAPA TV on the sidelines of the 7-Nov-2017 CAPA Asia Aviation Summit in Singapore the upcoming changes to the Qantas-Emirates partnership are beneficial for both airlines and consumers. He also pointed out that Emirates is adding capacity on the routes Qantas is dropping from Dubai.

Qantas currently operates four daily departures from Dubai, all using A380s. It has one daily flight on a Melbourne-Dubai-London Heathrow routing and one daily flight on the Sydney-Dubai-London Heathrow routing. As Blue Swan previously reported, Qantas is ending both of these services on 25-Mar-2018 and will instead service London with one daily 787-9 flight on a Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow routing and one A380 flight on a Sydney-Singapore-London Heathrow routing.

Sydney-Singapore-London is a route Qantas operated until Mar-2013, when it started to use Dubai as a stopover point for both its London flights under a new extensive partnership with Emirates. Qantas has renewed its partnership with Emirates for another five years but has decided to no longer operate any of its own flights to Dubai.

“It’s a logical thing for Qantas to do because the Qantas-Emirates partnership will actually deepen as a result of the move of the Qantas flights to Singapore,” Mr Griffiths said. “It offers Qantas an alternative hub to be able to serve their passengers and also put their services to Europe in connection with other services from all over Asia.

Mr Griffiths added: “Emirates are increasing frequencies from Dubai to compensate for all the Qantas services that are going to be moved. I think the joint offering between the two carriers is stronger as a result. You can still travel on the Qantas flight number to Dubai and then across the Emirates network to various points in Europe, Africa and US; and you will be able to travel using the EK code on Qantas services. The partnership grows from strength to strength and the route network simply gives both carriers greater spread of the Asian and Australasian markets.”

Emirates currently operates 11 daily nonstop passenger flights from Australia to Dubai, including three to Perth and two each to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. It also operates three one-stop flights from Australia to Dubai, including Brisbane-Singapore-Dubai, Melbourne-Singapore-Dubai and Sydney-Bangkok-Dubai.

Emirates has announced plans to add a third daily nonstop flight to Sydney on 25-Mar-2018, the same day Qantas stops serving the Sydney-Dubai route. Emirates also has announced that from 25-Mar-2018 it will add capacity to Melbourne by up-gauging its second daily Melbourne-Dubai flight from 777-300ERs to A380s.

Melbourne-Dubai capacity is also increasing as Emirates is dropping Melbourne-Auckland service on 25-Mar-2018. Currently its existing A380 flight from Dubai to Melbourne is shared with Auckland but under the new schedule this flight will be dedicated for the Dubai-Melbourne market. Emirates is also dropping Brisbane-Auckland service on 25-Mar-2018, resulting in more Brisbane-Dubai capacity. One of Emirates’ Dubai-Sydney services will still continue onto Christchurch.

Under the new Australia schedule, Emirates will serve Melbourne and Sydney entirely with A380s. Emirates now uses a mix of A380s and 777s to Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth while Sydney is already served only with A380s. Adelaide is served entirely with 777s.

Dubai is the sixth largest destination or gateway for Australian international traffic after Singapore, Auckland, Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Hong Kong. In the fiscal year ending Jun-2017, Emirates flew 2.165 million passengers on nonstop flights between Australia and Dubai, Qantas flew 504,000 passengers on its two Dubai services in FY2017, according to BITRE data. Of the Qantas traffic, 54% continued onto London on Qantas and 46% disembarked in Dubai (Most of the traffic that disembarked from the Qantas flights in Dubai connected to Emirates operated flights).

The upcoming capacity increases in the Australia-Dubai market from Emirates should ensure there is no reduction in overall Australia-Dubai traffic as Qantas pulls out of Dubai. This is good news for Dubai Airport, which relies on Australia to account for 3% of its total traffic.

Dubai International Airport handled 83.7 million passengers in 2016, making it the largest international airport in the world. Mr Griffiths said Dubai International Airport expects to handle nearly 90 million passengers in 2017 and aims to accommodate 180 million passengers by 2023.