Emirates eyes Phuket add-on

Posted on December 17, 2012

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Strong early demand on its newly launched Phuket-Dubai service has prompted Emirates Airlines to ponder ramping up capacity on the route with a second daily flight.

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Emirates executives say what is billed as the world’s fastest-growing carrier has already seen bookings on this route reach 85% up to March.

Its maiden flight from Dubai to the southern resort island on Monday night was almost 95% full, with a similar seat factor on the outbound flight.”There is a huge market demand [for air travel] to Phuket, and we would like to satisfy that fast-growing demand,” Salem Obaidalla, the senior vice-president for commercial operations in the Far East and Australasia, said in Phuket yesterday.

Jabr al-Azeeby, the Thailand and Indochina manager, said: “We’re actually looking forward to increasing our capacity [on the Phuket-Dubai route] already.”

Most Emirates passengers travelling to Phuket are from Europe, where the airline has a growing network _ now covering 33 cities on that continent _ and they are taking connecting flights at the airline’s Dubai airport hub.

Mr Obaidalla said Dubai’s growing importance as a world air hub and Emirates’ expanding global network are helping to ensure high seat factors the for Phuket-Dubai route.

For instance, 70% of the passengers on the Monday’s maiden flight to Phuket, Emirates’ 128th destination, were from Europe, 20% from Africa and 10% from the Middle East, he said.

Mr Obaidalla said the next step will be deployment of a larger-capacity aircraft, followed by addition of a second daily flight.

Emirates currently uses an Airbus 340-300 on the route, a wide-body jet configured with 12 seats in first class, 42 in business and 213 in economy.

Mr Obaidalla said the bigger Boeing 777, which has about 80 more seats than the A340-300, could be used instead.

The debut of non-stop Phuket-Dubai service makes Emirates the largest scheduled flight operator ferrying European tourists to the resort island.

Mr Obaidalla said Emirates hopes the success of the new route will mirror that of its Bangkok-Dubai service, which started with one daily flight 21 years ago and now offers 28 a week, some of them on double-decker A380s.

From Bangkok, Emirates also offer seven flights a week to Hong Kong and seven to Sydney and Christchurch.

Manit Boonchim, executive director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said Emirates’ expanded coverage of secondary European markets is bringing more Europeans to Thailand via Dubai.

The airline has also helped to boost visitor numbers from the Middle East.

This year, the TAT targets 630,000 arrivals from the Middle East including 150,000 from the UAE.

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