Airlines in the Middle East are grappling with a drop in profit as overcapacity in the industry weighs on the earnings of many carriers. Roland Magunia for The National
Airlines in the Middle East are grappling with a drop in profit as overcapacity in the industry weighs on the earnings of many carriers. Roland Magunia for The National

Busy summer season offers Emirates and Etihad a chance to boost revenue

UAE airlines may get some respite from the downward pressure on fares as demand picks up this summer.

But rivals from Europe are able to offer lower rates on some popular routes because they have less capacity.

In July, for instance, Emirates and Etihad are more expensive to travel to London Heathrow on than British Airways.

The pick-up in prices comes at a time when airlines in the Middle East are grappling with a drop in profit as overcapacity in the industry weighs on the earnings of many carriers.

“Given that it’s the popular summer period, this is how Emirates and Etihad can attempt to rein in some much-needed revenue and better margins as a result,” said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at London-based Strategic­Aero Research.

Emirates’ profit margin dropped to 1.5 per cent during the 2016-17 financial year, compared to 8.4 per cent a year earlier, partly on cheaper airfares.

Return airfares on Emirates economy class to London Heathrow, for instance, start at Dh2,470 in July, and Dh2,600 on Etihad from Abu Dhabi to the same place, same month.

On British Airways return fares from Dubai to London Heathrow start at Dh2,320 during July and from Abu Dhabi they start at Dh2,350.

This is a change from last year, when Middle Eastern carriers were promoting much lower air fares compared with their international rivals to keep seats filled. In December, research by The National found that economy class passengers booking to fly from London Heathrow in February to Abu Dhabi on Etihad would have had to pay just £316.57 (Dh1,476) one way, while anyone travelling to Dubai on Emirates would have been charged £403.57 (Dh1,874). By comparison, a similar flight on British Airways on the same day from Heathrow to Dubai was priced at £1,350 (Dh6,268) and a similar flight on Virgin was retailing at £1,299 (Dh6,032).

“The airlines will price their tickets to reflect their costs and also the strength of demand that they see across all their markets,” said Peter Morris, the chief economist at Flight Ascend Consultancy in London. “If British Airways offers cheaper fares to London from Dubai, it can be partly driven by their lower service frequency compared with the wide range of timings and destinations in the UK that Emirates offer.”

The range of services and amenities are also factored into an airline ticket price.

Both Emirates and Etihad are able to charge more on the same routes because of their sup­erior cabin and airport products, Mr Ahmad said.

The level of service offered by the big three Arabian Gulf carriers as well as their ability to offer numerous long and short-haul connections through their regional hubs has allowed them to compete on quality as well as price.

“Capacity on key routes, such as those to London, often command a premium despite fares being more competitive because customers demand flex­ibility and more flight options,” Mr Ahmad said. “I don’t think the affordable days are over at all.”

Emirates did not rule out cheaper fares being made available on some routes during summer.

“Like all airlines, Emirates offers a variety of fares throughout the year depending on changing market dynamics,” according to an Emirates spokeswoman. “From time to time we introduce special prices to specific destinations, and also post attractive fares when booked ahead [online].”

Cheaper airfares were on sale for various destinations until May 29 on Etihad for travel between May 10 and September 30 in economy class.

“We manage our pricing by route, based on a range of factors such as directional seasonal demand and market conditions, and there is usually a range of conditions attached to the fare, such as the ability to refund tickets, change dates, or avail special promotions,” said an Etihad spokeswoman.

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Sui Dhaaga: Made in India

Director: Sharat Katariya

Starring: Varun Dhawan, Anushka Sharma, Raghubir Yadav



Estijaba – 8001717 –  number to call to request coronavirus testing

Ministry of Health and Prevention – 80011111

Dubai Health Authority – 800342 – The number to book a free video or voice consultation with a doctor or connect to a local health centre

Emirates airline – 600555555

Etihad Airways – 600555666

Ambulance – 998

Knowledge and Human Development Authority – 8005432 ext. 4 for Covid-19 queries

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

The bio:

Favourite film:

Declan: It was The Commitments but now it’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Heidi: The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Favourite holiday destination:

Declan: Las Vegas but I also love getting home to Ireland and seeing everyone back home.

Heidi: Australia but my dream destination would be to go to Cuba.

Favourite pastime:

Declan: I love brunching and socializing. Just basically having the craic.

Heidi: Paddleboarding and swimming.

Personal motto:

Declan: Take chances.

Heidi: Live, love, laugh and have no regrets.


The biog

Favourite food: Fish and seafood

Favourite hobby: Socialising with friends

Favourite quote: You only get out what you put in!

Favourite country to visit: Italy

Favourite film: Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Family: We all have one!

Profile of Hala Insurance

Date Started: September 2018

Founders: Walid and Karim Dib

Based: Abu Dhabi

Employees: Nine

Amount raised: $1.2 million

Funders: Oman Technology Fund, AB Accelerator, 500 Startups, private backers



5pm: Handicap (TB) Dh100,000, 2,400m
Winner: Recordman, Richard Mullen (jockey), Satish Seemar (trainer)

5.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh 70,000, 2,200m​​​​​​​
Winner: AF Taraha, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

6pm: Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic Prestige (PA) Dh110,000, 1,400m​​​​​​​
Winner: Dhafra, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

6.30pm: Abu Dhabi Colts Classic Prestige (PA) Dh110,000, 1,400m​​​​​​​
Winner: Maqam, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

7pm: Handicap (PA) Dh85,000, 1,600m​​​​​​​
Winner: AF Momtaz, Fernando Jara, Musabah Al Muhairi

7.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000, 1,600m​​​​​​​
Winner: Optimizm, Patrick Cosgrave, Abdallah Al Hammadi


September to November or March to May; this is when visitors are most likely to see what they’ve come for.


Meghauli Serai, A Taj Safari - Chitwan National Park resort ( is a one-hour drive from Bharatpur Airport with stays costing from Dh1,396 per night, including taxes and breakfast. Return airport transfers cost from Dh661.


Etihad Airways regularly flies from Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu from around Dh1,500 per person return, including taxes. Buddha Air ( and Yeti Airlines ( fly from Kathmandu to Bharatpur several times a day from about Dh660 return and the flight takes just 20 minutes. Driving is possible but the roads are hilly which means it will take you five or six hours to travel 148 kilometres.

The Dictionary of Animal Languages
Heidi Sopinka


Group A: Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe

Group B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi

Group C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania

Group D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia

Group E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola

Group F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea-Bissau

Long Shot

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan

Four stars

Dubai World Cup nominations

UAE: Thunder Snow/Saeed bin Suroor (trainer), North America/Satish Seemar, Drafted/Doug Watson, New Trails/Ahmad bin Harmash, Capezzano, Gronkowski, Axelrod, all trained by Salem bin Ghadayer

USA: Seeking The Soul/Dallas Stewart, Imperial Hunt/Luis Carvajal Jr, Audible/Todd Pletcher, Roy H/Peter Miller, Yoshida/William Mott, Promises Fulfilled/Dale Romans, Gunnevera/Antonio Sano, XY Jet/Jorge Navarro, Pavel/Doug O’Neill, Switzerland/Steve Asmussen.

Japan: Matera Sky/Hideyuki Mori, KT Brace/Haruki Sugiyama. Bahrain: Nine Below Zero/Fawzi Nass. Ireland: Tato Key/David Marnane. Hong Kong: Fight Hero/Me Tsui. South Korea: Dolkong/Simon Foster.

Why the Tourist Club?

Originally, The Club (which many people chose to call the “British Club”) was the only place where one could use the beach with changing rooms and a shower, and get refreshments.

In the early 1970s, the Government of Abu Dhabi wanted to give more people a place to get together on the beach, with some facilities for children. The place chosen was where the annual boat race was held, which Sheikh Zayed always attended and which brought crowds of locals and expatriates to the stretch of beach to the left of Le Méridien and the Marina.

It started with a round two-storey building, erected in about two weeks by Orient Contracting for Sheikh Zayed to use at one these races. Soon many facilities were planned and built, and members were invited to join.

Why it was called “Nadi Al Siyahi” is beyond me. But it is likely that one wanted to convey the idea that this was open to all comers. Because there was no danger of encountering alcohol on the premises, unlike at The Club, it was a place in particular for the many Arab expatriate civil servants to join. Initially the fees were very low and membership was offered free to many people, too.

Eventually there was a skating rink, bowling and many other amusements.

Frauke Heard-Bey is a historian and has lived in Abu Dhabi since 1968.

The Bio

Name: Lynn Davison

Profession: History teacher at Al Yasmina Academy, Abu Dhabi

Children: She has one son, Casey, 28

Hometown: Pontefract, West Yorkshire in the UK

Favourite book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Favourite Author: CJ Sansom

Favourite holiday destination: Bali

Favourite food: A Sunday roast