Emirates is being reported in Gulf media as replacing Boeing 777-200LRs and -300ERs between Dubai and Los Angeles with the newest and most range/payload capable A380s from 2 December.
It’s an important development for Emirates watchers (largely comprising competing airlines) although it should be noted that if you are a consumer planning to fly to Dubai from Sydney or Melbourne on a 14.5 hour flight, you would be unlikely to alternatively start your trip with a similarly long Qantas A380 flight to Los Angeles.
At its simplest, the move is a further example of how Emirates has been using 777s to grow demand on routes to large centres to the levels where, with limited airline slots available, the only way to carry the extra passengers is to deploy the world’s largest passenger jet.
However Emirates does have recently repeated interest in eventually using its liberal air traffic agreements between various countries in Asia and the US to connect them, just as it recently moved to use similar rights to operate a daily service between Milan and New York.
For the industry, it is a case of seeing how quickly ‘eventually’ becomes ‘soon.’
It is the clearest of signals that the original Emirates non-stop from Dubai-to-anywhere model is moving to exploit its various trade and traffic agreements to serve intermediate markets it was otherwise going to overfly without accessing the entirely new sources of business those markets offer.
Much to the concern, perhaps, of the likes of Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and other globally oriented airlines.
This process has of course been taking place for some time. It is highly visible in Australia on the routes to Auckland and Christchurch, which Emirates flies many times daily between east coast Australian cities using 777s and A380s. But while it is not new, and many non Asia and non US carriers exercise traffic rights between Asia and America, having the fastest growing large airline in the world drop in on the game will inevitably lead to anti-Emirates media campaigns, and a rise in protectionist rhetoric.
Qantas, as the business partner of Emirates, is highly unlikely to ignore an expanded A380 global network for Emirates A380s giving it an opportunity for more maps of the world covered in ‘red roo lines, even if they are flown by EK jets, and in the case of LAX-DXB, unlikley to attract more than a few passengers per flight per week.
Keep it in mind that Emirates flies to America to serve America, not Australia.