November 20, 2013
Emirates Airline has no immediate plans to launch a large transpacific operation using fifth freedom rights, but might pick up the idea if the world economy recovers quicker, President Tim Clark told Aviation Week at the Dubai air show.
“Aeropolitically it can be done, but now is not a good time to do it,” he said.
Emirates holds rights to fly transpacific routes to the U.S. from destinations in Japan and Singapore, among others, and Clark says transpacific routes would be the last missing piece for a global network. However, the recent industry outrage in Italy caused by the launch of a Boeing 777-300ER service between Dubai and New York via Milan has highlighted how politically sensitive Emirates’ expansion can be, particularly in markets that do not even touch the Dubai hub.
Clark points out that Emirates would look into that kind of expansion more seriously and more concretely once the global economy has picked up more speed and it is ensured that a market can accommodate incumbent carriers and Emirates at the same time.
“There has to be room for everybody,” said Clark. He also says that a transpacific network would be “an enormous operation logistically” and not something the airline could pull off at short notice.
The transpacific plans may also hinge on the availability of additional capacity at Emirates’ hub at Dubai International Airport.
Of the 50 additional Airbus A380s the airline ordered at the air show, only 25 are planned to be accommodated at the hub. The second 25 would be used for replacement, unless Dubai World Central is expanded fast enough for Emirates to be able to move to the new airport in time for their arrival.
If the airline does not have space for them at its home base, they could also be used on fifth freedom routes that would not directly touch the Dubai hub.