Dubai-based Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul carrier, is cutting the frequency of services to the US, Europe and Asia in line with demand, it said on Tuesday.
"Emirates can confirm that from 1 July, our Fort Lauderdale and Orlando operations will move from daily services to five a week," a spokesperson for Emirates said in an emailed statement to The National.
The carrier will also cut services from Dubai to London Heathrow from six to five a day from April 25 to May 22, to Munich from three to two a day on certain dates in May and June, and to Oslo from seven to six a week in May.
Other planned reductions this year include a change in flight frequency from Dubai to Bangkok from six to four and five a day in May and early June respectively, and a similar change for Dubai to Kuala Lumpur from three to two per day, according to aviation website Routesonline.
Services to Phuket will be cut from 14 to 11 per week during the May 7-30 period, the website added, but Emirates did not immediately confirm the accuracy of the information related to South Asian services. The planned reductions to the US routes come even as Emirates in recent months said it is restoring services to the States after it scaled them back following President Donald Trump’s ban on electronics on US flights and travel restrictions on passengers from certain Middle East countries. The ban has been since lifted. The demand on US routes is “much better now,” the chairman of Emirates Group, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum told reporters in March.
An Emirates spokesperson on Tuesday said that the decision was made as part of a routine operational review to ensure capacity is deployed to best serve customer demand across the its global network.
“We remain committed to our US operations and will continue to serve our 12 American gateways,” the spokesperson said.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at Strategic Aero Research, said the adjustment “seems more to do with seasonal demand” than other factors, particularly in the case of Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
“These are big tourist cities and so capacity is adjusted to reflect demand,” he said.
Emirates is likely to seek codeshares with US national carriers even as it reduces its own operated services, said Mark Martin, founder and chief executive of aviation consultancy Martin Consulting.
“This would be the lowest reduction Emirates would go to in terms of operation of US flights,” he said. “There is a sizeable number of US expats, trading companies, real estate and construction firms operating in the UAE, and I don’t think Emirates would want to jeopardise the business relationship between the two countries,” he said. Any changes to the Asia routes could be part of shared network plans in the pipeline with sister carrier flydubai following the airlines’ strategic tie-up last July, he added.
However, Siddhartha Sharma, president and chief executive of analyst firm Interglobe Air Transport, said the changes were likely temporary.
“With trade issues in general across the world, this would just be a temporary restructuring as Emirates definitely controls slots for these destinations and could hold for some time until they believe the demand for passenger flow is increasing,” he said.
Emirates is set to unveil its latest annual results in May. It expects to announce an increase in earnings for the fiscal year ending March 31 compared with the previous year, Sheikh Ahmed told reporters in March.