Emirates continues making friends
Aviation update: Emirates and its landing issues are in the news again, and Etihad seems to be doing particularly well – it may even breakeven this year.
January 17, 2011 3:01 by Eva Fernandes
Emirates may be the pride and joy of Dubai, but there is no denying it’s also the city’s most troublesome child right now (ignoring the perennial black sheep, Dubai World). Not too long ago, a spat over landing rights with Air Canada resulted in an unprecedented diplomatic meltdown between the UAE and its Canadian friends. That little tiff is ongoing, and according to the latest reports a similar breakdown could be brewing with the Germans; the National tells us that the airline is getting flak from German national carrier Lufthansa.
The story goes that Lufthansa is looking to prevent landing spots at a new airport in Berlin being granted to Emirates Airlines, because it believes Emirates’ current allocation of spots gives it an unfair advantage. Lufthansa spokesman Wolfgang Weber is reported to have said, “We think there is a big imbalance in the allocation of slots, Emirates already flies to four airports in Germany while we only fly to one destination in Dubai. They have between five and six times more business on that route as a result.”
Kipp is baffled by this one. We don’t suppose anyone would mind you landing in Umm Al Quain and RAK, if that’s what you really want to do.
Anyway, the current spat isn’t the first time the two carriers have quibbled. Last year, Emirates accused Lufthansa of making “false and deliberately misleading” claims in an attempt to block Emirates’ request for additional access in Germany. Emirates said Lufthansa had made as many as 19 errors and distortions in a document submitted to German media and policy makers earlier in the year.
Though other European carriers have voiced concerns over Gulf Carriers’ rate of expansion, it isn’t exactly doom and gloom for the UAE aviation sector. Last week Etihad excecs said the airline, for the first time since its launch seven years ago, is expecting to breakeven this year. In 2010, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad was able to cut expenses by Dh1.17 billion, increase revenues by 29 percent to $2,95 billion, increase passenger volume by 13 percent to 7.1 million, add 800 new staff and launch seven new destinations. Etihad’s chief executive James Hogan told The National, “In 2010 we achieved our numbers and we are bullish that as the market changes we will achieve our break-even.”
Good for them, thinks Kipp, but though things are looking rosy for Emirate’s relatively young brother, Etihad would do well to take note of Emirates’ rather undiplomatic history when it comes to dealing with the issue of landing rights. Because Kipp wouldn’t be surprised if, come next year when the Berlin airport is ready, Germans will find themselves shelling out a grand to visit Dubai.