Emirates took-off for the first from Edinburgh Airport for Dubai International Airport (DBX) just before 20:00h last night – its 8th UK route and 2nd in Scotland.
The Dubai-based carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER had landed in Edinburgh in the afternoon packed with passengers from across the globe including from India, the UAE, New Zealand, Australia and other countries.
This daily service adds to the double-daily Emirates already operates to Scotland between DBX and Glasgow Airport, started as far back as April 2004.
Emirates divisional vice president for the UK, Richard Jewsbury (pictured left) spoke to ARGS at the launch event about the new route, which becomes the airline’s 162nd destination in its network.
He said: “It is about the long-term commitment to the market and I have got no concerns about Edinburgh. It will be successful and we already have good inbound demand for next summer.
“Australia and NZ is particularly popular for inbound travel and obviously Dubai, the Indian Ocean and Far East destinations will be very popular for the outbound Scottish market in the winter months.”
The airline recently added London Stansted Airport flights and the UK is one of Emirates’ key global markets in its global network.
“We have been there and done it before. It is our 8th UK gateway and we have successfully matured the other seven and it will be our 19th flight a day and will take us up well over 9,000 seats outbound from the UK. It will mature and also complement what we do in Glasgow and Newcastle,” Jewsbury said.
Scotland has a much smaller population at just shy of 5.5 million compared to England’s 53 million and the Edinburgh route adds to the Glasgow offering, but does Jewsbury have concerns whether they can operate two Scottish connections.
He said: “I am sure there will be some switch of traffic between the two airports, no doubt about that and Newcastle as well. We started Glasgow in April 2004 and then built it up to the double-daily today.
“Dubai is going from strength to strength and our network beyond Dubai continues to grow. Edinburgh will be successful as well.
“We have done the same in other parts of the UK (in London) as started off at Gatwick and then Heathrow, and now Stansted. Despite having six Airbus A380s out of Heathrow, and three A380s from Gatwick, we can still make Stansted work as it has its own catchment area to a degree and it will be the same as Edinburgh to some extent.”
Emirates launched from Edinburgh the same day as rival Etihad Airways stopped flying to between the gateway and Abu Dhabi after more than four years of operations and this will clearly give the load factor on flights a boost.
Jewsbury said: “It will allow us to mature the market maybe a little bit quicker than we would have done, but at the end of the day we have a long-term plan and we have a very robust planning budgeting cycle and when we commit to a route it is for the long-term.
“We have been monitoring Edinburgh for a number of years. I think the time is right for it to slot into the Emirates network in the UK.”
Emirates is well covered in the UK as now serves London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow, but key rival Qatar Airways has started routes to Cardiff and is rumoured to looking to also add Belfast, so are more potential routes coming.
“We are well covered but I think the focus will be on getting the two new routes added recently and particularly Edinburgh bedded down. We have had capacity growth at other UK gateways this year with a high density A380 at Gatwick and that will keep us going for the moment, but we will see what the future brings,” Jewsbury said.
“But it is not some zero sum game and Dubai will continue to grow and our global network will continue to grow and we recently started a new Bali route with a through service to Auckland. That is creating opportunities for traffic flow. I am this will not be the end of our growth story in the UK, but we will consolidate what we have for the moment,” he added.
Jewsbury said the UK is a vital market for Emirates. “The UK is very important like Australia, New Zealand, India, the USA, multi-gateway markets, but we have 162 destinations across 86 countries so it is one of the most important and biggest, but the whole is more important than some of the parts.”