Dubai – Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Department of Civil Aviation, CEO and Chairman of Emirates Airline and Group said that decreasing the number of flights to the United States is temporary and based on supply and demand.
He also added in a press conference held in Dubai on Tuesday that the company will cut the number of flights from 12 to five, starting from 1 May.
“Our dealings with the market come within the frame of supply and demand, as we have launched seven new destinations last year, most of which were in China and East Asia,” he said.
The airline will reduce frequencies from next month to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Seattle, Boston, and Los Angeles.
Other destinations such as New York, Houston and Chicago are not affected.
Asked how the weaker demand and restrictions could affect Emirates’ US expansion plans, Sheikh Ahmed said it would be “sensible” not to add flights “until you see an improvement.”
Sheikh Ahmed cited geopolitical events that had put pressure on yields including Brexit, low oil prices, currency devaluations in Egypt and in 2017 the stop-start travel bans from the new US administration combined with an electronics ban that had already led the airline to make cuts to five of its services to the US because of weakening demand.
“Because we have seen a decrease in passengers to the US we are not looking at opening new routes there. We see growth in China, India, the Far East and Africa.”
“We do not fly to 100 cities in the world, so we have plenty of options for opening new routes. We don’t need to open new cities in China, we could just increase the frequency of flights to the five cities we already fly to.”
Emirates flies to five destinations in China, “we are looking at the Chinese market to expand our operations there as we are convinced of China’s growth prospects in relation to passenger demand,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
“We have 27 aircraft joining the Emirates fleet next year,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
“We have already announced Zagreb and Cambodia but we will be announcing other new routes. We are looking at all possibilities and we will be bringing a new product to the market in first class. We are looking at premium economy and when the market demands we may even bring in paying for extra checked in baggage.”
Emirates will soon release its financial results for the year ending March 31, which will show an annual profit despite a “tough year” where stiff competition drove down fares, he said.
The airline reported a 75 percent half-year profit drop in November.