Emirates Airlines is increasing capacity on Dubai-Malta sector from this month (May) by operating with Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
It currently operates five weekly flights between Dubai and Malta on an A330-200, including belly-hold cargo services, connecting to more than 88 cities in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent and Asia Pacific.
There are plans to increase the frequency to daily flights in the future, said Paul Fleri Soler, Emirates manager for Malta and Cyprus.
The induction of Boeing on the sector will add 104 passengers per flight and will also increase the cargo capacity to 23 tonnes from current 13 tonnes.
The airline has come a long way from a twice weekly frequency in 1998. It is currently the second largest carrier after Air Malta operating out of the island.
“The connection has been instrumental in putting Dubai further up in the map of Malta,” he said. Today Dubai is a popular holiday destination, particularly during the shopping festival. “Earlier we had groups going to Dubai but now we find more individual travelers as the cost of accommodation has gone up in Dubai and it is becoming difficult for tour operators to deal with the situation.”
The Malta-Dubai route has been running at 70 per cent load factor. The combination with Cyprus has been very successful for Emirates. With the Smart City Malta project the airlines hopes to get more business, to attract more UAE nationals to the island. Currently it gets mainly expatriates.
The airlines has already 60 per cent increase in business class traffic this year from last year.
“We are in the lucky position in Malta but have to compete with other airlines for business beyond Dubai, particularly the Far East, Indian subcontinent, Australia and Africa. We do not tackle the North American market yet as we are doing small movements to New York via Hamburg,” he said.
Emirates lifts a lot of passengers from various destinations to Malta giving them convenient flight breaks. Malta is very strong in German market and the airline is trying to take advantage of that.
Emirates is also strong in Australia as a large number of Maltese expatriates are settled there, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. “We move 5000 to 7000 passengers in this sector and currently hold 80-90 per cent market share in Australia,” Soler said.
By Mridula Bhattacharya
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