Apr 20, 2017

Emirates trims US flights, what could it trim next?

The madness in America in relation to only those lithium ion batteries used on major ME carriers is starting to hurt a big Boeing customer

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Is the Boeing 777-9 at risk from anti ME carrier restrictions?

Emirates is cutting its US flights from 126 to 101 weekly in response to selective US bans on passenger electronic devices in its cabins according to the Washington Post.

The question of the day for the US aerospace industry is what the Dubai based carrier might trim next. Emirates is the largest buyer of the forthcoming Boeing 777-X series of higher tech airliners, a design which like the current 777 models, has been largely rejected by American carriers.

The Emirates statement quoted in the report is couched in diplomatic terms, although it is harder edged than this earlier official response to the bans by Doha based Qatar Airways.

Qatar is also a launch customer for the 777-X series, with 60 of them on order beside the 150 ordered by Emirates.

The third Middle East carrier selectively targeted for the commercially damaging curbs on what passengers can carry as hand luggage on flights to the US is Etihad, with 25 of the big Boeings on order.  Etihad hasn’t said much, so far, about the restrictions.

However between them the three ME airlines account for 235 sales out of a total of 306 for the design, which uses a new wing, with folding wing tips.  The 777-X series, due in service from 2020, uses GE engines designed for efficient full load operations out of hub airports where field temperatures can nudge 49C and the ingestion of fine suspended particles of sand poses additional challenges in terms of engine maintenance and reliability.

The balance of orders, from All Nippon, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa, are from carriers that don’t need engines designed for such use, and the German carrier is on the record as resisting the additional cost required for capabilities that the ME3 consider vital.

Qantas has expressed interest in future ultra long range versions of the 777-X, including for their potential ability to avoid landing at the ME hub at Dubai used by its commercial partner Emirates for flights between Australian and European and UK cities.

The harm apparently deliberately done to the ME3 by the Trump administration has appalled aviation safety authorities world wide, because it means fire prone lithium ion batteries used in small electronic devices are consigned to under floor cargo areas where an outbreak of fire is considered harder to deal with than if it occurred in a cabin.

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20 thoughts on “Emirates trims US flights, what could it trim next?

  1. ghostwhowalksnz

    US carriers are trimming flights to NZ over their busy summer season (AA is suspending flights for 2 months, United 6 months), as the planes are needed on other routes, so they said but could that be a lack of forward bookings ?
    ‘Twice daily Emirates flights to Boston, Los Angles and Seattle will be reduced to once a day. Daily flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will be pared down to five per week.”
    I imagine they will either reduce the congestion at their principal hub or deploy the planes on other routes for busy northern hemisphere summer

  2. Deano DD

    Ben if it was just a “Trump thing” why did the UK also slap the ban on

    IMO it couldn’t happen to a better bunch of airlines
    With their wealth from oil and and not from toil, they are dumping a ludicrous amount of subsidies and oil money into their airlines and tourist industries and hide it very well
    All along having an adverse effect on other carriers and building their airlines by decimating routes served well by other airlines
    Who ever gave 2nd, 3rd and 4th party rights to airlines, surely could not have envisaged the likes of Emirates competing with Australian carriers on
    Syd, Mel, Bne – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch
    Australia – Asia and Europe
    I kind of get Australia to Europe as Asian carriers have hubbed people there since I can remember
    But why we are letting Emirates sell tickets between Australia and New Zealand Or Sydney and Bangkok is a question that needs to be answered
    What’s next, Japan, China or god forbid Aus-USA (our most profitable routes)
    The sooner the ME3 are exposed and put out of business, the better
    QF and VA, all things being equal, would have an extra 30-40 frames in the air, flown by AUSTRALIANS who live in Australia and spend their money in Australia
    Plus Hosties, and back end staff, equating to hundreds, if not thousands of well paid jobs if it weren’t for the ME3

    1. Allan Moyes

      Because Trump and May are “hand-in-hand”. You might have noticed how cosy they were when she visited Washington. It’s Reagan and Thatcher all over again. The UK is desperate to be “someone” now that their stupid decision to leave the EU is coming to pass.

    2. Mark Skinner

      Do you have any evidence for those claims deano?

      I presume that if there was the slightest evidence out there, the US carriers would have launched lawsuits quicker than you could beat up a passenger and drag him out of an aircraft.

      Sounds made up to me.

    3. patrick kilby

      Deano just a geography point the ME3 are Asian carriers, which you ‘kind of get’. I suppose you can like some Asian carrier but not othersw. The whole point of the QF Perth hub is to avoid all Asian carriers, and it might just work.

  3. Ben Sandilands

    We seem to disagree about whether rich states have a right to invest in their own airlines. Where do you think we should try to enforce a limit on that foresight. Should they be just as crappy on some US carriers, with next to no serious investment, or do we try to allocate their investments budgets for them. They don’t put any restrictions on foreign carriers serving the hubs in question, and they don’t even try to tax them. So, do we bomb them or what?

    Anyhow, the US rules exempt ME countries where Trump has financial interests, and the don’t affect Emirates flights via Italy or Greece. The UK bans are just for show, since they exempt flights coming from Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

    The big risk in all of this apart from offending common sense is that the Trump rules expose those selected flights to an increased safety risk through fire.

    1. Deano DD

      To be honest Ben, I really don’t care how or why Trump got this ban in place, it may very well be commercial rather than a security threat…..
      But I admire what he is trying to do for the US and it is a shame that our government is such a pushover and allows OUR jobs to fly off shore
      If the likes of the ME3 had their way, Qantas would be a domestic airline and the likes of Emirates would fly from their hub via every Asian port that Qantas services and on to Australia as they do with Singapore and Bangkok, then onwards to the US
      Propped up by sheikes, Islamic governments and oil money

      1. Dan Dair

        Deano DD,
        I really do understand your hankering for a world which makes a bit more sense.?
        The trouble is that there was never any reason why Qantas or ANZ couldn’t have done exactly what the ME3 are currently doing.
        The ME3 aren’t the ones blocking airlines from their ‘waystation’ airports.
        QF & NZ (amongst many, many others) just didn’t perceive the ME3 as a potential threat 20 years ago, or at any time until it became too late to fend them off.?

        Also, you talk about seat-dumping, but that’s just what QF were doing to VAH for years with their 2 for 1 idiocy a few years ago, which cost both companies very, very dearly
        (& was perhaps part of the reason that QF didn’t have the financial-ability to take B787’s much earlier (or buy anything else long-haul capable instead, for that matter) or go head-to-head with Emirates when they became a real commercial threat over the last 6 or 7 years)
        at least one of the ME3 nations has no oil at all and hasn’t had for around 20 years, so it’s hard to make sense of your argument that they’re being state-subsidised by oil-money.?

        “Islamic governments”, really.?
        Let’s just say ‘Propped up by governments’.
        It’s every bit as appropriate & accurate, then we can perhaps leave the phobias for other less salubrious forums.?

        1. Dan Dair

          and another thing……
          “QF and VA, all things being equal, would have an extra 30-40 frames in the air, flown by AUSTRALIANS who live in Australia and spend their money in Australia”

          I seem to remember only a couple of years ago that Alan Joyce got into a lot of hot-water over trying to get Australian flight-crew to work under New Zealand employment T & C’s & get paid into NZ bank accounts?.

          What’s sauce to the goose,
          is just a saucy to the gander.???

      2. Goat Guy

        Deano DD,
        Sadly as many Australian jobs have been lost by Qantas doing things like moving engineering workloads offshore and by the Jetstar using cheaper foreign crews than anything the ME3 have done. I fly a lot for business and you get to a point where you realise that a lot of the issues in Australia with the ME3 are self-inflicted by poor management at Qantas. I’d love AJ to explain why the new aircraft have gone to his LCA where people buy on price and his “premium” brand gets to keep the old, tatty expensive to run aircraft. Of course we all know the answer behind that but when business travelers like me simply give up on Qantas and fly a far superior product don’t blame the ME3.

        1. Dan Dair

          Goat Guy,
          “Of course we all know the answer behind that…”
          Actually, I don’t.
          It’s never made the slightest bit of sense to me & I’ve said it on these pages a number of times in the past.?
          If you have inside knowledge, or believe you know, I’m genuinely interested in you sharing with me.

          Incidentally, I’d forgotten about QF closing their Heavy Maintenance Division & moving it offshore.
          If I’d remembered, I’d have brought it up myself.
          Deano DD,
          I’m not set against you. You’ve made good points before & I expect you will again.
          It’s easy to blame other nations for the domestic problems. (Britain are doing it right now, blaming the EU for theirs & deciding they’ll be better-off walking away from the economic group they do nearly half of their business with)
          The facts in this case are much more blurred.
          Emirates has been very bad for Qantas International.
          It hasn’t been noticeably bad for Australian passengers & those travelling to Australia.
          In fact, there’s probably a good case to make that the ME3 have significantly improved the connectivity between Australia & NZ and most of the rest of the world
          and as a consequence, improved the business & tourism interests in both countries. (& very probably generated a fair amount of domestic business for QF & VA.?)

          Good management at Qantas, which then provides the future connections people want with the service levels & prices which meet customer expectations, will allow QF to recover some of the ground they’ve lost.?
          But it’s up to them to make it happen.
          The ME3 have a responsibility to their own shareholders/shareholder to retain & enhance their existing market share.

          1. Goat Guy

            Qantas play a shell game to ensure that the AJ’s Love Child Jetstar appears profitable and that Qantas is the issue. The narrative that started under Dixon was that the major issue for Qantas was the unions and that the answer to their outrageous conditions was to start a new airline and make sure that new deals favoured Jetstar not the unions. Obviously when you do this you need to make sure that the numbers back up the rhetoric. So if you make sure that Jetstar get the new, more fuel efficient and less expensive to maintain aircraft that’s a good start. Better still throw the A330’s back to Qantas so they pick up the bill for the D Check not Jetstar. Hey, we have a pretty empty Jetstar flight, let’s cancel it and put them on a Qantas flight without a cross charge. Wow we have to pay to be part of the airlines spare parts pool, I wonder who foots that bill. An so it goes on. It’s not hard to ensure who has the lowest cost base and therefore who appears more profitable.
            Why would you put the new aircraft in your LCA where there is zero customer loyalty and people buy solely on price? Meantime why does your “premium” airline where customer loyalty is king fly the old and in most cases tired aircraft? Interesting that Singapore have taken the exact opposite approach isn’t it?

          2. Dan Dair

            Goat Guy,
            The possible/probable cross-subsidy of JetStar by Qantas through the methods you highlight has come up on these pages a number of times in the past.
            The way you put them together makes sense “to ensure that the AJ’s Love Child Jetstar appears profitable”.

            But I completely agree that it’s bl00dy stupid.
            And I can’t understand why the board or the institutional shareholders would continue to let him get away with it.?

            As you rightly identify, those paying a premium are the passengers QF should be chasing. They are the ones who the airline gets the biggest margin from & a normal person would expect the newest or most-recently refurbished & definitely most fuel-efficient aircraft would be allocated to those passenger routes.?

            Hands-up anyone who is, or even knows someone who is actually, really, loyal to JetStar & would take a JetStar flight over a cheaper one with another airline……….?
            There you are then.!

  4. Zarathrusta

    In game theory terms, the obvious thing to do is for all 3 ME3 carries to jointly announce they are mothballing the 777X orders while this stupid ban is in force.

    1. Dan Dair

      I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if the ME3 aren’t already very privately discussing exactly that.? Working out what it would cost them to get out of the contracts they have in-place & what deal they could do with Airbus instead.?
      It also wouldn’t surprise me if they were equally privately, intimating their thoughts to Mr & Mrs Boeing.

      AFAIK, the Trump ban is a fixed-term thing, so I imagine that the ME3 are waiting patiently to see what happens once the ban expires, before they show any of their cards.?

      1. derrida derider

        Yep, retaliatory threats are should never be spoken plainly to the party you’re threatening, let alone spoken publicly. They should be whispered and indirect (“gee, the A350 has turned out great – I wish we had more of them”).
        Otherwise the counterparty is much less likely to concede because of the loss of self-esteem or the esteem of others (ie face); both are especially important to blowhard narcissists like Trump.


    With all that oil money, why are they cutting back flights?

    1. Mark Skinner

      Dubai doesn’t have much oil.

  6. comet

    I don’t want to fly on any airline that stores lithium in the cargo hold.

    No way. It’s only a matter of time before one erupts.

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