Onwards and upwards

Written on the 5 March 2009

 

Emirates Airlines continues to tap into new international ports to increase market share during a traditionally low traffic season. The Gulf carrier has been working with Tourism Australia to implement promotional campaigns in the UK, considered an important in-bound market for Australia. Senior vice president of commercial operations East Asia & Australasia Richard Vaughan, talks to Gold Coast Business News about the various challenges ahead for the brand.
How is Emirates placed to ride out the downturn?
We have a positive attitude towards it. Business in Australia and New Zealand has gone well over the last 12 months and forward bookings are still reflecting that trend. We have added additional capacity and from a Queensland point of view, the second daily to Brisbane is very important and it looks like it has been pretty well received. For us we are very positive about future growth.
Growth will be determined by when the economic downturn bottoms out. There are some areas where we could do a bit more business in, but generally and as far as Australia is concerned, we are very positive about it.
When can Brisbane expect the new A380?
When the demand is there. The air bridge is already there right next to our lounge. The airport is compliant, but we are awaiting demand. We’re putting it into places where there is demand, we’re not just going to fly it for the sake of flying it. We would have probably gone to Brisbane 18 months ago, but at the planning stage, we only had rights to 49 flights, so until we got the rights, we couldn’t plan. A Brisbane flight from here (Dubai) requires two and a half aircraft.
How are you travelling compared to Etihad in this region?
Without denigrating any competitor, I’m not really concerned about that, we just worry about what our plans are. It doesn’t matter who it is, Etihad or any other airline, we only focus on what we do.
How do ongoing debacles at Airbus and Boeing affect forward orders for aircraft?
They’re starting to get their act together, but of course if they don’t deliver that will hinder plans. We are basically back on track. We have had to re-jig some of our plans with the 380s.
The fifth 380 is arriving in April. We have 17 more aircraft arriving this year and have no reason to think they won’t deliver.
What about the Gold Coast market?
Brisbane for us was a better option, because that then gives us the Sunshine Coast. The logistics of spreading the operation is expensive. The first thing we would look at is whether the route can make money, then look at what facilities you have there.
A good example is the A380 going to Auckland. Three years ago they came here (Dubai) and said they didn’t think that they would put an A380 air bridge into Auckland and I said in that case when we put the 380 on the route we will fly it into Sydney. They said we would fly something else across and I said ‘no we won’t’. We basically said if you don’t have an air bridge we’re not coming, so they built two and it’s been fantastic.
What about the Gold Coast air bridge issue?
Paul Donovan (Gold Coast Airport chief) will do his own numbers for the Gold Coast. (But) with 350 people, walking them across the tarmac is not going to work.

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