By James Wilkinson
Emirates has launched daily Dubai-Sydney-Auckland flights with Airbus A380 aircraft, once more raising the stakes in the battle for both trans-Tasman and Middle Eastern route supremacy.
Emirates is now flying daily between Sydney and Auckland
Emirates had been operating the A380 three times per week on the Dubai-Sydney-Auckland service and Boeing 777-200LR aircraft on the remaining four days before the daily Airbus superjumbo service commenced on May 1.
The additional capacity between Australia and New Zealand comes as welcome news for the trans-Tasman MICE sector, which is seeing an increasing number of last-minute conference bookings.
Emirates’ daily A380 service also means the airline will ramp-up Dubai-Sydney flights to a record number of seats on the route.
“Emirates made a commitment to increased services to the Australian community some years ago and while we have promised big things for this market we have also delivered, even in the present economic times,” said Emirates vice president – Australia, Stephen Pearse.
“Emirates is proud to be able to proceed with this scheduled capacity increase by making the A380 a daily service and we also remain committed to a third daily service for the Sydney (to and from Dubai) market from 1st December 2009,” he said.
However, the latest aviation figures reveal Emirates continues to struggle on trans-Tasman flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
Statistics released by the Department of Transport shows Emirates had an Australia-New Zealand load factor of 55.6 per cent on outbound flights and 60.1 per cent on inbound services in February.
In comparison, Qantas had 84.8 on outbound and 80.8 on inbound; Pacific Blue had 80.7 on outbound and 69.5 on inbound; Jetstar had 79.7 on outbound and 71.1 on inbound; and Air New Zealand had 74.0 on outbound and 70.7 on inbound.
The lowest scoring performer on trans-Tasman flights continues to be Royal Brunei Airlines, which had a 34.2 per cent seat utilisation on outbound flights and 53.2 on inbound (on the Brisbane-Auckland-Brisbane route).
Overall, Auckland-Sydney continues to be Australia’s most important inbound route, with 1,228,653 arrivals in February 2009 – a drop off of 0.5 per cent compared to February 2008.
The release of statistics comes as tourism bodies, airlines and hotels continue to call for seamless customs and immigration channels between the two countries to reduce airfare costs and save travel times.
This week, the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) wrote to the Rudd Government, calling for the removal of the $47 passenger movement charge, which would reduce return-airfare prices to around $200.