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Emirates no longer ‘dastardly competitor’, says Tim Clark

  • Dubai carrier may do more deals with North American airlines
  • Tie-ups with United and Air Canada have ‘opened eyes’ in industry
  • Emirates president Sir Tim Clark was speaking at Arabian Travel Market

Emirates’ new tie-ups with North American airlines are opening the door for more code-share partnerships, the carrier’s president Sir Tim Clark has said.

Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market on Tuesday, Clark pointed to the Dubai airline’s deals with United and Air Canada, which were both launched within the past year.

Similar agreements could follow, he told reporters at a media roundtable.

“I think the United-Air Canada thing opened the eyes of a number of players who thought perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to look at us as a dastardly competitor, but someone they could actually work with, within all the IATA rules.

“Clearly, the door has been opened a chink for people to look at us.”

United is now flying to Dubai from Newark airport in New Jersey, while daily flights between Dubai and Montreal are set to begin on July 5.

These tie-ups would have been impossible a few years ago, when American airlines were accusing their Emirati rivals of receiving unfair state support. The row was eventually settled with a 2018 agreement between the US and UAE governments.

“We went through a fairly torrid time five years ago when the American carriers didn’t like us very much, although we did try and hold out our hand and say work with us, not against us,” Clark said.

Emirates, the world’s largest long-haul airline, has had a successful partnership with Qantas since 2013.

However, there has been speculation that the relationship could sour because of the Australian giant’s Project Sunrise, which aims to introduce non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London.

There have been questions over whether this would affect routes operated by Emirates from Dubai to Australia, but Clark said: “I look at the demand for our Australian services as they stand today and as he [Qantas’ outgoing CEO Alan Joyce] gradually withdrew his A380s from the operation, we couldn’t cope with it all. 

“We put more capacity in and more points in and increased production there.”

Emirates currently has 265 aircraft flying to 140 destinations and is operating at close to 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to its chief commercial officer Adnan Kazim.

The carrier has an average of 1.3 million seats deployed per week, overseeing close to 3,080 departures a week, he added.

Kazim said spikes in demand were coming from the US, UK, India, Hong Kong and China, which reopened its borders in January after a lengthy lockdown.

Capacity on routes to China is at 85 percent, said Kazim: “There’s hardly any seats available.”

As the airline strives to meet demand, Clark revealed that Emirates has 165 aircraft on order with the potential for more to come.

Although there are no new plane deliveries scheduled for this year, he said the $16 billion order for 50 Airbus A350 passenger jets, which was placed back in 2019, should be complete over the next two-and-a-half years.

Clark expects Boeing to start delivering 777-9 jets, which have been plagued by production problems, between July and October 2025.

He is set to unveil Emirates’ latest profit figures next week and told reporters that he expects to announce “exceptionally good results” for the financial year.

The airline reported profit of AED4 billion ($1.1 billion) for the six months from April to September 2022, compared with a loss of AED5.8 billion in the same period of 2021.

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