Emirates expects new Colombia route to be 85% full this year

Dubai airline introducing the only first-class offering available on the Miami-Bogota flight

Emirates marks the launch of its new Bogota route via Miami at El Dorado International Airport on Wednesday. Deena Kamel / The National
Powered by automated translation

Emirates has forecast strong demand on its new route to Bogota through Miami and expects to fill 85 per cent of available seats by the end of the year.

The airline launched its new flight to the Colombian capital this week and is the only carrier to introduce first-class seats on the Miami-Bogota part of the route.

It is giving customers more choice and opening up air connectivity between the Middle East and the northern part of South America, Nabil Sultan, executive vice president for passenger sales and country management, said at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota on Wednesday.

“We’re already seeing strong forward-booking demand between Dubai and Bogota and we expect both inbound and outbound booking levels to remain very healthy for the rest of the year,” he told The National, following the route launch.

Load factor, a measure of how well an airline fills available seats, will reach 85 per cent by the end of this year, mainly with a mix of corporate travellers and those seeking to visit friends and family, Salem Obaidalla, senior vice president of commercial operations for the Americas, told The National in Bogota.

In terms of air freight, the new route will allow aircraft to carry 20 tonnes of cargo per day, enabling the transport of fruit and flowers to Dubai, he said.

The arrival of flight EK213 from Miami, a Boeing 777 wide-body jet, was celebrated at gate A14 at the airport with traditional Colombian dancers and a cake-cutting ceremony. The aircraft features eight private suites in first class, 42 seats in business and 304 seats in economy for the daily service. Due to the high altitude of Bogota, it is not possible to operate a direct flight from Dubai.

The new flights will help stimulate tourism, boost trade flows, improve market access and open opportunities for investment across a number of sectors between Colombia and the UAE, Mr Sultan said.

The UAE and Colombia have also signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to boost business ties.

Non-oil trade between the two countries rose by 43 per cent last year to reach a record $53.1 million, more than double the total achieved in 2021.

The aim is to grow last year's levels significantly to "between $800 million and $1 billion" in 2024 as the countries focus on strategic sectors such as renewables and tourism, Mohammed Al Shamsi, the UAE's ambassador to Colombia, told The National during the event.

Attracting more Middle East tourists

The city of Bogota is aiming to attract three million international tourists this year, up from two million in 2023, and Emirates' new route will help towards that goal, Andreas Santamaria, director of the Instituto Distrital de Turismo (Bogota's tourism board), told The National.

We want to connect with Arab and Asian countries … Arab tourists are now a small number but this will increase not only to Bogota but also to the Caribbean coast and the coffee plantations,” he said.

With the start of Emirates' service to Bogota, the airline aims to boost travel to the Colombian capital through Dubai from 78 destinations in its network, increasing passengers from markets such as the UAE, India, China, the wider Middle East, Far East and Australasia, Mr Sultan said.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan and South Korea are among the markets that Colombia is seeking to tap, Mr Santamaria said.

Passengers from Colombia can also travel to 140 destinations in Emirates' network via the airline's Dubai hub.

Mr Santamaria said he would also like to see Australia's Qantas and Air China serve the Colombian market, following Emirates' entry into the market.

Natali Leal, chief executive of El Dorado International Airport, said the hub carried 40 million passengers last year and aims to increase this to 45 million in 2024.

“Emirates' new route will contribute to improving the number of visitors to Colombia and also to help Dubai receive more visitors from South America,” she told The National at the event.

“Emirates was top of the line for us. We worked with the Colombian authorities to try to get Emirates into Bogota for more than four to five years. We worked hard to realise this. It is a very important goal for us.”

Updated: June 06, 2024, 11:13 AM