Impact of Dubai and Emirates on aviation

Sebass van Boxel
  • Impact of Dubai and Emirates on aviation Sebass van Boxel

    As one may have noticed Dubai and Emirates is booming. Dubai International Airport shows an average growth of 10+ percent over the past 5 years and Emirates is growing to become one of the worlds biggest airlines in the world (Source) with Dubai as its main hub.

    Next to that Dubai is building worlds largest airport with a projected annual capacity of 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of freight. So, quite impressive.

    As an European I notice a certain fear with traditional airlines like Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways of losing the Asian market and a lot of passengers to Dubai, Emirates (and other Gulf carriers). Besides that, the new airport would serve as worlds largest hub, which probably means a big percentage of all transfer passenger will be handled in Dubai and skip other big airport hubs in Asia or Europe.

    This whole question basically comes down to 'What is the impact of Dubai and the Gulf Carriers on aviation'?

    More specific...

    Though the question above is interesting it clearly was way to broad. So lets start with other hubs and routes. What air routes will probably be effected by this (both negatively and positively)? And what measures are other big hubs taking to prevent (big) losses?

  • My answer is (like always): It depends. The Gulf carriers are a clever way to upgrade the oil which is produced there. Instead of selling us barrels, now they sell us competitive flights. The second advantage is their uncongested airspace with large airports which can operate 24 hours in mostly sunny and fog-free weather. A third advantage is low wages for the crews, which come from every corner of the world. So, operationally, the Gulf carriers work in near perfect conditions.

    If the Europeans don't see the threat and will still raise a petty protest for every night flight or runway extension, European carriers will lose a lot of business. But not all is to the advantage of the Gulf carriers. Their model works only at their hubs. To pick up passengers in Europe, they still have to cope with congestion and bad weather. Also, the stopover makes total trip times longer. This was almost unavoidable 50 years ago, when the main airliner engine was the JT-3D, but now, with RB-211s and GE-90s, range is not such a problem anymore. And in 20 years, fuel economy will again be higher, making it still easier to offer direct flights between more destinations.

    Right now, the fleets are young, the facilities new and spacious and everyone likes shopping in Dubai. I expect these advantages to weaken in the future, and then the Gulf carriers have either to offer excellent service, or need to cater to the most price-conscious customers. Both will slim their margins.

    A sizable part of the freight business will permanently move over to the Gulf carriers, because most freight would not mind the stopover. But that is actually good, because it will relieve the European hubs. Freight has been growing at twice the speed of passenger traffic and is becoming suffocating in some places.

    In short, this is now quite a threat but will be less so in the future. As a consumer, I welcome their competition, because it will keep the European carriers on their toes. Only Air France will bumble on as before, because they count on further government handouts.

Related questions and answers
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