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Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways. Who’s paving the way?

Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways. Who’s paving the way?

The summer months are putting the Big Three Gulf airlines to the test and Precious de Leon things there those who are already losing altitude from the get go.

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July 3, 2011 3:10 by



Well Kipp supposes it could have been a remit from the Dubai Municipality itself but it’s a wonder why Emirates and FlyDubai are promoting inbound travel to Dubai instead of facilitating the yearly flight pattern of GCC residents out of the region.

As Kipp writes this aviation analysis, we are surrounded by empty desks and shut computers as most of the hacks in our department flee the summer heat—an almost clockwork schedule for most of us who’ve lived here for so long.

So it’s interesting that Emirates and FlyDubai are “expecting to see an influx of visitors in the summer from the GCC due to events such as the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS)” – at least that’s what Gulf News reports in an article this Sunday.

Kipp’s not going to deny that we’ve published articles at the start of the year where we’ve pointed out that the UAE has been enjoying inbound MICE traffic (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions and not the rodent kind) with the regional turmoil and all, but Kipp would sure like to see the airport and hotel footfall figures for this summer to see how much growth in tourism is really being registered. What do you think are the chances that outbound travel outpaces inbound? Kipp shrugs at this one.

It’s especially eyebrow-raising when Emirates’ Abu Dhabi counterpart Etihad is too busy looking at its operations abroad to even push DSS’ Abu Dhabi counterpart, the ‘Summer in Abu Dhabi’ programme.

The Etihad dives down under
Instead, Etihad looks set to become a real global player as it enjoys its current relationship with Virgin Australia after having dropped Qantas last year like a hot potato on an already simmering day.

Don’t believe how harsh that drop was? How about this quote from dumper Etihad’s CEO James Hogan about dumpee Qantas: “We are actually quadrupling results we had with Qantas.” And what about their current relationship with Virgin Australia? Hogan proudly says, “It has worked very well and is just early days –we haven’t cranked up.”

Ouch. In your face Qantas! Apparently Virgin Australia is exactly four times better than you right now…and they’re just getting started.

Anyway, Etihad is not just busy throwing eggs on faces, it is also focused on creating more bridges. According to The National, the airline is considering joining a global air alliance.

Although there hasn’t been a confirmation on which network it will join, if Etihad goes ahead with this, it will be first of the Big Three carriers to join a major global airline alliance as Emirates and Qatar Airways have both so far decided to go at it alone. The Kipp team is left scratching our heads over why the two other airlines haven’t done this before.

Qatar Airways’ touchdown in Canada was momentous, eh?
And lastly, Kipp can’t really talk about Etihad and Emirates as global aviation players without talking about the third of these ‘Big Three’ Gulf airlines: Qatar Airways. And their latest feat is by no means of small measure.

After much hullabaloo about open skies, Qatar Airways, the newly crowned ‘Airline of the Year 2011’, has started its first ever route to Canada. In fact, Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport received the 13-hour non-stop flight from Doha on June 30, 2011.

Of the eight destinations Qatar Airways has added this year (Bucharest, Budapest, Brussels, Stuttgart, Aleppo, Shiraz and Venice were the other seven new routes), the Montreal route is the most monumental move.

As Kipp is sure you’ve read our first ‘versus’ page, then you will know very well that Canada Air, along with other Western airlines have vehemently blocked the entry of the Big Three into their national territories. That Qatar Airways is making some headway into breaking these barriers can only be good for the passengers who will now have more travel choices.

Well, it looks like the Big Three will get its wishes this year as they all continue to enjoy substantial growth globally—well, clearly from our discussion here some are making more headway than others.



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