dispelling rumours of job lay offs in Emirates as a fallout of the global financial crisis.
Speaking to reporters after a successful launch of its direct flight to San Francisco, Emirates second direct destination on the US West Coast in a month after Los Angeles, Shaikh Ahmed said, the airline expects delivery of 22 new aircraft as part of its expansion plans. This will translate into more staff requirements for smooth operations and to provide services of high levels... a reputation enjoyed by emirates so far.
“Our intention is Emirates expansion so no lay offs anticipated in the near future.”
He also dispelled rumours on a proposed merger between emirates and Etihad airways. “The current global crisis has led to speculations by experts analysing the markets in the manner they like,” he said, admitting he was aware of such rumours sometime ago,” and our mistake was not to clarify this earlier. Both Etihad and Emirates are part of one family being UAE’s national carriers, but nothing on the proposed merger is true. Besides, the issue has never been touched upon between the governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” Shaikh Ahmed pointed out.
He denied Emirates’ plans of joining any airline alliance in the immediate future. “Since Emirates enjoys a robust growth projection for next year as well, we really see no need for mergers or alliance with other international carriers at this point of time,” he said.
“Mergers and consolidation is a way of survival for many airlines... We are strong enough to go through it so don’t see any need for such consolidation or mergers.”
A relaxed Shaikh Ahmed in an informal chat with local journalists who flew to San Francisco on the direct inaugural flight on December 15, touched upon several aviation issues from market projections and Emirates’ growth as well its future plans both in terms of passenger and cargo traffic. Shaikh Ahmed was joined by Emirates airline President Tim Clark at the press conference.
Commenting on the launch of new destinations in North America with San Francisco becoming the carrier’s fifth destination after the airline established service to Los Angeles last month, Shaikh Ahmed said,” the market is big. We hope to connect the west coast to Africa and the sub-continent through the Dubai hub. All our flights to North America enjoy good load capacity and reports about the Los Angeles flights launched recently show full passenger loads which is an indication of a robust market for Emirates in North America.”
He added, plans are underway to add new US cities including Chicago and Seattle in the near future.
“Our strategy is not become the biggest airline in the world, but to reach out to most geographical locations in the world... We want to be number one in terms of services and to be consistent with the services provided,” noted Shaikh Ahmed.
On the launch of the Dubai’s low cost airline, Fly Dubai, he admitted there has been some delay, but, hopefully the airline will be able to start operations by June next year... Commenting on the current drop in passenger traffic from India, Shaikh Ahmed said there was no need to worry. Instead we should remain positive about the market.
“Strong companies such as Emirates can always survive during tough times such as the current dip in traffic from India due to the global economic meltdown.”
The UK market currently for Emirates is very robust and we still see premium cabins (business and first class) full despite the economic crisis. The retired 60 plus segment has taken over from the frequent corporate premium flyers with emirates on this sector, he said, “I dont think there is anything to worry about for the aviation industry in the UAE.”
However, he expressed the need for the hotel industry in Dubai to work out new strategies with stronger promotions to lure tourist traffic which has perhaps seen a decline by upto 5 per cent, Shaikh Ahmed said.
On Emirates’ plans to go green completely, Shaikh Ahmed, said the San Francisco green flight was an experiment that the airline undertook as part of its environmental initiatives. “We need time to analyse this experience and see the obstacles faced in converting the entire Emirates fleet into eco-friendly green flights in the near future. But, we require at least 12 months before we can really tell how it will look in years to come.”
Meanwhile, Tim Clark who also spoke to the media remarked that green flights will surely help maintain check on air fares. “Since the aviation industry is perceived as environment damaging industry, green flights, an initiative taken by Emirates, will demonstrate that the new aircraft such as 777 and A380’S are environment friendly. Besides, the fall in fuel consumptions on green flights will put Emirates in a much better position to keep hold on the air fares.”
“I don’t say that air fares will drop as a result of operating green flights, rather fuel efficiency will allow us to absorb other cost increases which would have resulted in upward pricing,” he said.
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