The airline game tends to parse every utterance from Emirates president Tim Clark with the utmost care, for obvious reasons.
He leads the fastest growing very large airline on the planet, its fleet requirements profoundly influence the decisions made at Airbus and Boeing (even though both hose this down constantly) and developments like Italy-US flights and the Qantas business partnership mean it is looking at extending its Dubai-nonstop-to-everywhere global hub model.
Which makes his latest interview in Arabian Business even more interesting than the headline suggested, when it said Emirates thought the latest and largest Dreamliner, the 787-10 might to be too small for it.
The more interesting parts of that report are highlighted in bold below.
Clark is increasingly looking to larger aircraft and he revealed he is in talks with Boeing to develop aircraft that will allow it to fly ultra long-haul flights of up to 20 hours.
The state-owned carrier currently flies to 134 destinations in 77 countries and Clark told The New Zealand Herald newspaper in an interview he would like to double that figure, but did not give any specific timeline for achieving this.
“Remember we don’t always serve primary cities, we are into second-level and third-level airports,” he was quoted as saying. “Demand is hard to predict, we are not masters. Because we find it easy to make changes – if we find we are running out of aeroplanes we’ll just go and order some more.”
The Dubai-based carrier, which is the largest in the world for international passengers, currently operates 200 wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft and has orders for an additional 194 aircraft, worth more than $71bn.
In a bid to achieve his goal of nearly 270 locations, the report said Clark was in talks with US manufacturer Boeing on a new model of the 777, the 777X, which would allow it to fly ultra long 20-hour flights.
Clark said Sydney to Rome was on the horizon if the US manufacturer could develop an aircraft that was comfortable enough for passengers to sustain such a single journey.
Why would Emirates be interested in Sydney-Rome when it wouldn’t land at Dubai?
Put another way, why didn’t he give examples of desirable 20 hour flights non-stop from Dubai?
Does Emirates envisage an international air traffic rights regimen in which it could fly non-stop between any two points of commercial merit on earth, as distinct from non-stop between Dubai and any point of commercial attraction to the airline today?
And, last but not least, it if were to fly Sydney-Rome, or let’s guess, Sydney-London non-stop, does it have in mind doing this as Emirates in competition with Qantas (or Virgin) or as a Qantas it substantially owns or controls?
Either of those options would involve ‘reforms’ of a very wide nature in GB, in the EU and in Australia when it came to airline ownership and air traffic treaties. However the policy settings of successive Australian governments have been strongly reformist when it comes to trade issues, because the benefits to the total economy have outweighed the negatives of living behind walls that shut out states that provide customers for Australian resources and capital for developing them.
It is a painful, vexed and difficult argument from any point of view.
But if Australia had the trade policies today that largely framed the Menzian golden age of the 50s, we would still have a state subsidised Q.A.N.T.A.S, flying limited and unaffordable routes, a GPO run telephone monopoly, and locally produced AWA televisions and Kelvinator refrigerators and Holden cars that would cost around eight to ten times the price of today’s alternatives, meaning we’d be living in an Australia that was as proud, but also as poor and ignorant as it was in the post war protectionist era.