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Emirates At DXB - Ultimate Operational Analysis  
User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4503 posts, RR: 72
Posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 34641 times:

Four years ago, I wrote EK At DXB: Cracking The Connectivity Code (by HB-IWC Aug 30 2006 in Civil Aviation), an analysis of Emirates’ operational organization at its Dubai home base. While many of the aspects of that article remain valid, four years is a very long time in the airline industry, and in recognition of EK’s tremendous growth over those years, I am complementing the above article with a more in depth investigation of the airline’s operational organization, including its hub operation and fleet operational characteristics.

This analysis is based on timetable data for the IATA 2010 Northern Winter schedules for the week of December 06 to 12, 2010. While airline operations are terribly dynamic and changes will occur to these data, the overall picture will remain valid.

During the week recorded in these data, Emirates plans to operate 1,146 departures and 1,146 arrivals at its Dubai hub for a total of 2,292 DXB movements. Some of these flights include multiple segments, so the total number of operated cycles is higher than the number of movements at DXB.

The airline’s active fleet will at that moment consist of 145 aircraft, built up by 29 Airbus A330-200s, 8 Airbus A340-300s, 10 Airbus A340-500s, 13 Airbus A380-800s, 9 Boeing B777-200/200ERs, 12 Boeing B777-300As, 10 Boeing B777-200LRs and 54 Boeing B777-300ERs. The total fleet count may slightly vary depending on exact delivery dates, but the global picture remains valid.

EK will operate flights to 25 destinations in Europe (flight numbers 1 – 200), 6 destinations in the Americas (flight numbers 201 – 300), 12 destinations in Asia except the Indian peninsula (flight numbers 301 – 400), 6 destinations in Oceania (flight numbers 401 – 499), 11 destinations in India and Bangladesh (flight numbers 500 – 599), 6 destinations in Pakistan/Sri Lanka/Maldives (flight numbers 600 – 699), 18 destinations in Africa (flight numbers 700 – 799), 7 destinations in the Persian Gulf area (flight numbers 800 – 899) and another 6 destinations in other parts of the Middle East (flight numbers 900 – 999). Total number of passenger destinations stands as such at 97.


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Part I:
Operational Analysis of the Emirates Hub and Spoke Organization



I.1. The Hub and Spoke Model at work on a daily basis

The majority of EK’s passenger traffic is merely connecting through DXB and the airline’s organizational model at its home base is geared towards catering to these flows of connecting traffic. Emirates operates a single hub and spoke operational model that is based on a number of arrival banks followed by departure banks that allow for passengers to connect via the hub between various end points.

The Hub and Spoke operational model has been practiced by airlines around the world, and although it contains a number of negative aspects pertaining to such issues as airport congestion around peak times and the uneven use of human resources at the hub, the Hub and Spoke system remains very popular with medium and large sized airlines.

At its Dubai home base, Emirates operates the following number of weekly arrivals, departures and total movements split up per hour:



A graphic representation of both the arrival and departure movements over the course of a day gives an even better impression of the tidal character of the arrival and departure banks within the operation:



In the above graphs, the x-axis contains the time of the day and the y-axis represents the total number of weekly movements within that time frame.

At Emirates, the operational day starts with a departure bank between 2 and 4am. This bank is fed by a corresponding arrivals bank that starts before midnight the previous day and consists largely of inbound traffic from the airline’s European network. The 2 – 4am departure bank consists of the following flights:



A lot of the flights in this departure bank are Asia bound, and carry Europe-originating traffic.

Shortly after the end of this departure wave, Emirates’ main arrival wave of the day is starting. The 4 – 7am arrival bank sees inbound traffic from the entire EK network and will feed into the ensuing main departure wave. Not surprisingly, right around 5am, the DXB airport starts getting very busy. Here is an overview of the inbound traffic of the 4 – 7am arrival wave:



After all of this inbound traffic, a new departure wave ensues. The 7 – 11am departure is the airline’s main departure event of the day. Virtually all European destinations are served from this bank, which also caters to North American and African destinations. Towards the end of this wave, a number of Australia bound flights are scheduled. The exact contents of this departure grid are as follows:



At 11am, a new, smaller arrival movement starts. This smaller arrivals bank caters to the afternoon secondary European departure wave and carries mainly traffic from Asia and the region. Most of this traffic allows for a daylight trip between the East and Europe. Arrivals in this bank are the following:



The secondary European departure wave starts at 2pm and also contains traffic for a number of African destinations. While nowhere nearly as busy as the morning departure grid, this wave is sure to see additional traffic in the future as an increasing number of European and African destinations receive reinforced frequencies. Weekly movements of the 2 – 5pm departure bank:



At 5pm, the quietest hours of the EK DXB operation start. There are relatively few arrivals and departures, and the airline is operating a handful of regional and Indian flights to provide connectivity to some of the inbound North American flights between 7 and 8pm. While the airline is awaiting the main arrivals bank later in the evening, the following limited arrivals and departures take place:



The last main event of the day is at the same time the start of the new operational day: from 10pm onwards, DXB is receiving a large number of arrivals, mainly from Europe, but also from Africa and Asia, which will feed into the 2 – 4am departure wave which started this overview. The last arrivals of the day as well as the first arrivals of the next day are as follows:



A superposition of the arrival and departure movements results in the following graphical representation of the total number of weekly EK movements at Dubai:



While the separate figures for arrival and departure movements, which were inserted earlier, give a good idea of the different waves of inbound and outbound traffic and how these waves flow into each other, the aggregate figure above clearly shows the degree of operational activity at the airline’s home base.

DXB is at its busiest between 6am and 10am when the airline’s main overnight arrivals bank morphs into its main morning departure bank. The second busiest period is between midnight and 2am, when an identical move, albeit largely in the opposite direction takes place. The graph also clearly illustrates the smaller afternoon arrival and departure waves and the relative hibernation of DXB between the hours of 5 and 10pm.

Given the graph above, some may believe that future growth of the Emirates operational model will be situated in those quieter times of the day, yet it is clear that that will not be the case. A similar graph of EK’s arrival and departure movements in 5 years from now is likely to have largely the same shape, as the airline is more or less stuck with its own Hub and Spoke model. Additional departures will be added to existing departure banks so as to provoke optimal feed. In the same way, additional arrival traffic will be located in the existing arrivals banks to provide optimal connectivity.

Furthermore, geographical elements dictate a number of schedule characteristics and the airline has little or no means to break out of these patterns if it wants to be able to offer competitive and commercially viable schedule options to its passengers. As such, any new European destinations will almost certainly depart from the 7-11am bank and arrive in the midnight bank. Growth to existing European destinations will be established by adding secondary frequencies in the afternoon departure bank, which in turn makes the already busy early morning departure bank even busier. Apart from that, the airline will also resort to aircraft up-gauges, which allow to grow capacity without adding arrival or departure movements within the busiest periods of the day.

42 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4503 posts, RR: 72
Reply 1, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 34716 times:

I.2. Geographic Characteristics

As briefly mentioned above, geographic determinants are largely steering the development of the Hub and Spoke models of airlines around the world. The geographic location of the hub airport combined with the need to provide optimal connectivity there is linked to the relative location of areas containing sets of destinations and this relationship often dictates schedule patterns along which most if not all of the traffic moves.

Emirates is no exception to this rule and an analysis of schedule details shows remarkable symmetries in its schedule built up. Broken down by region, the following picture appears:


EK001–148 DXB – Europe – DXB

Emirates operates to following roster of flights to and from Europe:



As mentioned before, most of the Europe bound traffic is operated from the airline’s 7-11am departure wave. European airports receive these flights in the early afternoon and send them back to Dubai for an arrival in the midnight arrivals bank. These European flights feed into the 2am departure wave to Africa, Asia and beyond and are fed by the global overnight departure bank.

An increasing number of more established European destinations are seeing second daily frequencies, which are typically located in the secondary afternoon departure wave, fed by the 11am arrivals bank from Asia and Africa. As this arrivals bank is smaller, so is the afternoon departure bank and the airline is typically deploying smaller capacity aircraft on these European flights than on the morning departures. These aircraft make a late evening turn around in Europe and then return to Dubai for an early morning arrival feeding into the non European components of the 7-11am departure bank.


EK201-262 DXB – Americas – DXB

With up to 9 daily departures, EK’s network to the Americas remains relatively small, albeit growing.



All destinations are served from the morning departure wave and these flights return to Dubai the evening of the following day. Outbound flights are obviously optimally fed by the airline’s early morning arrivals wave, but with a 7pm arrival time, the inbound flights provide limited direct connectivity with the exception of those subcontinent and regional destinations served between 9 and 11pm. It goes to show that EK’s North American flights largely cater to regional and subcontinent destinations, as those are the only ones that are provided with direct connectivity. All North and South America flights provide a commercially interesting evening departure from the outstation.

Next winter, EK will be operating second daily frequencies not only to New York, but for the first time also to Los Angeles and Houston. All of these secondary flights will leave from the 2am departure wave, fed by the midnight arrivals bank and return to Dubai the next day in the course of the morning after a morning turn around in the US. These morning departures from the outstation may make these flights less popular with premium passengers than the primary evening departures.


EK302-385 DXB – Asia – DXB

Asia is a growth area for EK, and apart from Australia bound and originating flights that stop over in the region, the airline is currently operating the following roster of terminator flights to and from Asia:



Asia terminator flights are equally spread over the 2am and 8-10am departure banks with respective return flights in the midnight and early morning arrivals banks, thereby offering seamless connectivity to the rest of the Emirates network, be that Europe, Africa, the Americas or the region.


EK404-435 DXB – Oceania – DXB

Emirates is operating 63 weekly roundtrips between its Dubai home base and Australia and New Zealand:



As with the Asia terminator flights, EK’s Australia operations are located in the 2am and 8-10am departure waves and are thereby optimally fed by both European arrival banks. DXB arrival times in the early morning and early afternoon are equally designed to cater for optimal connectivity to European departure banks, while regional and African connections are also available.

Some of EK’s morning arrivals in Australia make an additional trans Tasman roundtrip to optimize aircraft utilization and to take advantage of some additional local traffic on those sectors. Return flights from Australia are mostly in the evening hours although EK has been struggling with some of the more ungodly departures times and has recently been forced to withdraw one of its SYD frequencies that was less commercially viably timed.


EK500-586 DXB – India/Bangladesh – DXB

Emirates is operating an impressive roster of flights to and from India:



With an average stage length of around 3 hours, most of these flights are considered regional feeder flights for the remainder of the airline’s network. As some destinations see higher frequency flights, EK is operating flights to and from India at all times of the day to ensure optimal connectivity to and from the essential components of its longhaul operation, not the least to and from its North American and African networks.


EK600-659 DXB – Pakistan/Sri Lanka/Maldives – DXB

As with the India flights, this sector is largely considered regional and therefore designed as a feeder for longhaul traffic:



EK has been struggling with an acute lack of additional frequencies for Pakistan and this region features the smallest growth within the airline’s network.


EK700-798 DXB – Africa – DXB

Africa is becoming increasingly important for airlines around the world and that is not different for Emirates. It is a region with tremendous growth potential both in terms of new destinations and reinforced frequencies. EK is currently operating the following complement of flights to the region:



Unlike flights to other regions, flights to Africa may be found in the airline’s 3 main departure waves at 2-4am, 8-10am and 2-4pm. Flights are fed through a multitude of inbound flights from the entire EK network and on their return, these flights are equally to be found in the airline’s 3 main arrival waves at midnight, 6am and 1pm.

The reason these flights are not confined to one particular arrivals or departure banks is likely that the airline needs to establish connectivity between the relatively underserved African region and virtually all components of its global network.


EK803-867 DXB – Persian Gulf – DXB

Emirates’ shorthaul operations are grouped in this series of flight numbers and comprise flights to Saudi Arabia, where EK boasts the A388 to Jeddah in order to compensate for limited frequencies, as well as to other neighboring Gulf States:



More than any other component of the EK network, these flights serve as feeders for the airline’s global network of medium and longhaul flights. As such, these flights are scheduled to connect from and feed into the various arrival and departures waves mentioned before.


EK901-978 DXB – Middle East – DXB

The remaining set of Middle East flights are grouped in the 900-series flight numbers:



These flights are by and large grouped in the airline’s morning and afternoon departure banks and are being fed by the arrival waves that come just before those banks. On their return, these flights feed into the afternoon and midnight departure banks so as to allow for connections to Asia, Oceania, Africa and other components of the EK network.


I.3. Future Growth

A lot of speculation is continuously going on about Emirates’ expansion plans. From an operational perspective, though, not much is left to the imagination as to the future design of the EK Hub and Spoke model.

As mentioned before, the design of departure and arrival banks as well as the scheduling within these banks will be very much according to the existing patterns. The volume of the existing banks will grow and the off peak times of the hub will remain just that.

With an impressive list of outstanding aircraft orders, Emirates will be able to fill up existing holes in its network, and, depending on their geographic location, these destinations will be served according to schedule patterns that are very similar to the ones presented in the previous paragraph.

As such, any new European destinations are certain to be located in the already busy morning departure bank and return to Dubai by midnight after an afternoon turnaround at the outstation. Further growth in the European network will also come by adding secondary and tertiary flights to high volume destinations. Secondary flights are located in the afternoon departure wave and return to Dubai the following morning. So far, only the London airports receive tertiary flights, but if and when additional airports, such as Paris or Frankfurt were to be served with a third daily flight, then it is virtually certain that this flight would leave from the 2am departure bank.

Further North and South American growth has been heavily speculated, with a number of additional destinations being named. These flights will operate according to existing patterns, i.e. departing from the morning bank and returning in the evening of the next day after an evening departure from the outstation.

Equally so, further Asian and African growth will follow established operational patters that offer optimal connectivity as part of the EK Hub and Spoke network strategy.

An interesting question in this regard pertains to the sustainability of this system. Will certain departure or arrival banks at DXB at some point become oversaturated? At this point, the 6am to 10am time window seems to be the prime candidate for such saturation issues as it features a partial overlap of the end of EK’s busiest arrival bank with its busiest departure bank.

One may expect that the airline will try to steer away from over saturation of certain parts of its operational setup by resorting to the up gauging of the equipment for some of its busiest flights to avoid having to add extra frequencies which tend to clog the airport and airspace. As such we may very well see more and more A388 capacity deployed in the busiest of arrival and departure banks, with the smaller equipment migrating to smaller banks and off peak times.

In any case, Emirates will need to plan carefully to harmonize future sustainability of its Hub Operation with the constant demand of additional volume that is inherent to such a system. The large outstanding order for A388 equipment should be viewed in this light: not only will it ensure that the airline can offer sufficient capacity to satisfy its market demand, but, equally important, the airline should be able to operate this capacity in a manner that least jeopardizes the operational sustainability of its hub operation by avoiding the imminent risk of over-saturation.

On the other hand, from a purely commercial perspective, the airline is of course not able to operate VLA equipment to every destination in its network, much less open new destinations with such equipment, and as such it will need to strike a balance between volume and frequency, taking into account a full range of commercial and operational aspects so as to keep both the money and the traffic flowing.

Future growth models, both from a commercial and operational perspective, are an incredibly exciting part of airline management that is still in full development. Mathematical models simulating and predicting future operational flows and their impact on the airline’s bottom line are increasingly part of strategic decision making in airline boardrooms.


User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4503 posts, RR: 72
Reply 2, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 34684 times:

Part II:
Analysis of the Emirates’ Fleet Operational Characteristics


As Emirates is building its network and increasing its traffic volumes, there have been a number of remarkable developments in its fleet deployment policy. In order to get a better insight into the airline’s fleet strategy, one has to start by taking a close look at the exact flying program of each fleet component and the operational characteristics arising from those flying programs.

The flight program of this analysis is sustained by a fleet of 145 aircraft comprising 29 Airbus A330-200s (332), 8 Airbus A340-300s (343), 10 Airbus A340-500s (345), 13 Airbus A380-800s (388), 9 Boeing B777-200A/200ERs (772), 12 Boeing B777-300As (773), 10 Boeing B777-200LRs (77L) and 54 Boeing B777-300ERs (77W).

Some of these groups of aircraft are featuring different on board configurations, which typically complicate the operational organization and as such tend to bring down utilization rates and increase the risk for operational irregularities because of lower inherent back up capacity. For the purpose of this basic operational research, these configuration differences will initially not be taken into account.


II.1. Flying Program and Operational Characteristics of Individual Fleet Components


Airbus A330-200 (332)


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The A332 was once a very important component of the EK fleet, covering destinations as far as Australia. However, this preeminence is no longer there, and when looking at the flying program of this fleet component, one gets the distinct impression that this aircraft type has been relegated to mostly regional routes:



While the A332 is still serving a number of secondary destinations in Europe as well as a number of second frequencies to other European destinations, the chunk of its flying program is on regional flights within the Middle East and to and from the peninsula.

The result of this relocation of A332 equipment has been a dramatic drop in average daily utilization of this subfleet and one wonders whether this in turn is dictating the airline’s apparent inactivity when it comes to cabin refurbishments for these aircraft. It has been rumored that a part of the 29-strong A332 fleet will soon leave the airline’s active fleet.

For the current flying program, all 29 aircraft are however supposed to be operational with the following operational characteristics:



The most striking element of the A332 operation is its very low average cycle length. At just 3 hours 32 minutes, the A332 is flying sectors that are far below the typical mission it was designed for. Among some of the larger A332 operators, EK is definitely deploying its fleet with some of the shortest average stage lengths.

A natural consequence of shorter cycles, is a decrease of utilization rates. While an average daily utilization of just above 12 hours is still respectable, it makes the aircraft slightly underused when compared to international standards. In view of the respectable size of this fleet component, EK should be able to easily squeeze utilization rates of around 13.5 hours out of its A332 fleet.

All in all, the A332 fleet seems to be underused and not used on the type of missions it was designed for. EK could easily open a couple of secondary European stations with the spare A332 capacity it has inherently available.


Airbus A340-300 (343)


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With just 8 aircraft, the leased A343 armada is an oddball in the Emirates fleet, but the airline seems to nevertheless hold on to these aircraft for which it has found a number of niche markets in which the A343 is apparently right sized. The A343s flight program is as follows:



The A343 is serving a number of European destinations apart from select flights to Africa and Asia. Its flying program is further filled with a number of regional flights. The operational characteristics pertaining to these flights are the following:



With an average daily aircraft utilization of above 13 hours, Emirates is positioning itself around industry standards for a fleet of this type. The average cycle length is 6.5 hours, which seems short for this aircraft type, but the number of actual longhaul flights for which this aircraft type was designed is limited in the EK operation, and the airline has more suitable equipment to operate these flights.

It is safe to say that the A343 is not a strategic and long term component of the Emirates fleet and its relatively small fleet size makes the aircraft rather insignificant and even invisible in the airline’s global operation.


Airbus A340-500 (345)


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Photo © Denis Lyaskovskiy



The most striking example of changing priorities in fleet planning at Emirates is exemplified by the airline’s 10-strong fleet of ultra longhaul Airbus A340-500 aircraft. Once hailed as the airline’s flagship and deployed on some of its most prestigious ultra longhaul nonstops, this aircraft has now been relegated to a secondary role with very similar characteristics to those of the A343 fleet.

The exact flying program for the A345 looks like this:



With the exception of a single Brisbane roundtrip, the A345 does not fly a single mission for which it was actually designed. Gone are the days of the nonstop New York, Sydney and Melbourne trips, and the radically changing flying program has equally radically changed this subfleet’s operational characteristics:



While the airline remains capable of extracting 13.5 hours of average daily utilization out of this fleet component, it is worth noticing that this number is down from a utilization of over 16 hours just a couple of years ago. The current average daily utilization is below what the aircraft was designed for and is indicative of the dramatically changing average stage length of the flying program.

With average cycle times of just 6.5 hours, the A345 has been moved away from segments for which is was designed, and it seems therefore that the airline is merely using this aircraft to fill its schedule rather than assigning it to the role it was designed for. This aircraft type should perform average sector lengths of 14 hours and above.

It seems as if there is little future left for the A345 at EK. With a flying program containing SEZ, DAR and KRT, its glory days are certainly over.


Airbus A380-800 (388)


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The Airbus A380 has rapidly become the new flagship of the Emirates fleet. With 13 aircraft in the fleet by December and tens more still on order, this aircraft will at some point move the chunk of EK traffic through its network. The proposed flying program for the A388 next December contains the following flights:



A lot has been said about the EK’s deployment of the A388, but the airline seems to move the aircraft where it needs the capacity, without necessarily making use of its full operational capabilities.

Here is what the operational characteristics look like:



With an average daily utilization of 14 hours 28 minutes, the A388 fleet is well used. Even if an additional aircraft is added to operate this flying program, the fleet will still be very well used, and this high proposed utilization speaks for the airline’s confidence in its young A388 fleet, which is likely displaying very solid dispatch reliability levels.

At just over 7.5 hours, the average stage length for the A388s flying program may seem smallish, but, as mentioned, the airline is deploying the aircraft where it needs the capacity without necessarily making use of its full range capabilities. Furthermore, the geographical position of the Dubai hub is such that there are but a limited number of real longhaul flights, as represented by an network wide average stage length of just 5 hours 44 minutes for the entire Emirates flying program.

As more aircraft of this type are added, one may expect operational characteristics to remain pretty stable. Utilization will remain high, while sector length will be over average within the airline but rather small for international standards for A388 operations.


Boeing B777-200/200ER (772)


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The 9-strong Boeing B777-200 fleet, featuring both ER and non-ER models, is deployed on missions that are similar to those of the A332 fleet, but are atypical for what one would normally expect of this aircraft type. This subfleet is rather small and does not play a very significant role in the airline’s worldwide operation. Its proposed flying program is as follows:



While the aircraft is taking care of a number of off-peak European roundtrips, it is otherwise deployed mainly in the regional sectors and this type of scheduling is impacting both the utilization and average stage length for these aircraft:



At almost 13 hours, these aircraft are used at levels just below international standards. The fleet is not purposely underused, but the utilization rates are what they are because of the high cycle numbers and low average stage lengths. The average B772 cycle lasts just under 4 hours, which is far below international standards and even below averages for the entire EK network. It goes to show that EK is deploying these aircraft typically on shorter sectors.


Boeing B777-300A (773)


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Of all the fleet components, the 12-strong B773A fleet is displaying the most average operational deployment in the EK fleet. Both its average daily utilization rates and average sector lengths are nearly identical to those of the entire Emirates fleet. The 12 aircraft of this type will be deployed on the following flights come December:



The B773A is deployed to a number of medium haul destinations in Europe, Asia and Africa as well as on a number of high density regional routes that need the additional capacity provided by this aircraft type.

Operational characteristics are as follows:



At over 14 hours of daily utilization, the B773s in EK’s fleet are rather well used. The average sector length stands at 5 hours 30 minutes, which is right around the average for the entire Emirates flying program. That number is rather low for international standards, but, as mentioned above, EK does not have all that many real longhaul routes, and the airline does also not operate any narrowbodies to its regional destinations. The absence of narrowbodies is inevitably bringing down utilization levels and average stage lengths for certain components of the widebody fleet.


Boeing B777-200LR (77L)


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Photo © Tim Bowrey - Sydney Spotters



With just 10 aircraft in the fleet, and with no apparent plans for additional aircraft of this type, Emirates is squeezing a lot of utilization out of its fleet of long range B77Ls. This aircraft has all but taken over the missions that were previously designed for the A345 and is operating some of the very longest flights in the EK flying program:



Apart from the ultra long haul flights, Emirates is complementing the flight program of these aircraft with a limited number of medium and shorthaul flights. The airline could, however, add additional ultra longhaul flights with the existing B77L fleet if the need were to arise. A detailed discussion later pertaining to the daily deployment of this fleet will make that point clear.

The operational characteristics of the B77L fleet are as follows:



In typical ULH style, these aircraft are high in utilization, high in average stage length yet low in operated cycles. The aircraft are clearly deployed for the types of missions they were designed for. For a detailed micro-level review of the B77L operation, refer to section II.3.


Boeing B777-300ER (77W)


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Photo © Stefan Sonnenberg



With 54 aircraft in the active fleet next December, the B77W is the current main stay of the Emirates fleet, and the aircraft is deployed on a wide variety of missions to all parts of the EK network. The airline seems to be very content with this aircraft type and plans to add quite some more units. The extensive flight program of the B77W in its various cabin configurations is as follows:



In addition to its core flying program on trunk routes to Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, Emirates has been pioneering the use of the B77W on some of its ultra long haul flights. As such the B77W is now seen operating nonstop routes to the US West Coast, Brazil and Australia and there are indications that Emirates will continue to deploy the B77W on these kinds of missions.

The operational characteristics of the B77Ws flight program are summarized below:



The large B77W fleet is displaying an impressive average daily utilization, which is on par with that obtained by an airline like KLM, which is known for very high utilization levels, and above B77W utilization rates of other large operators of this type such as Air France, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

In contrast with the aforementioned airlines, however, the average stage length of B77W flights at EK is a smallish 6 hours 52 minutes, which is above the average for the entire EK operation, but well below industry standards. Here again, one notices some of the effects of an all widebody fleet, which provokes the use of wide body equipment on atypical shorter sectors.

The B77W will remain the backbone of the Emirates fleet for another couple of years and its operational characteristics within the airline’s operation are unlikely to change very much. As no more ULH aircraft are currently on order, one may expect the B77W to be deployed on some future route with block times well above 12 hours.


User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4503 posts, RR: 72
Reply 3, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 34677 times:

II.2. Comparison of Operational Characteristics for different Fleet Types

As discussed above for each of the different fleet components, Emirates has over the past couple of years made some radical changes to its fleet deployment policies. The arrival of the B77W has pushed the A332 and B772 fleets increasingly towards the regional network. In the same way, the B77L has relegated to A345 to missions that are outside of what is was designed for.

These strategic decisions have first and foremost had some consequences for the average daily utilization rates of the different fleet components. The following is an overview of both absolute and relative utilization rates:



The table above lists, for each fleet component, its size (number of aircraft) as well as its relative size in the entire fleet. The next block recapitulates the total weekly utilization, and then states the relative utilization of each fleet component as part of the total network wide utilization.

The ratio util:size column lists the ratio of the relative utilization to the relative fleet size of each fleet component. This number is indicative of the relative utilization of each aircraft type with ratios above 100 being relatively overused versus ratios below 100 being relatively underused when compared within this operation.

The final column list the average daily utilization for each fleet component as already discussed in the previous paragraphs.

Apart from the remarks made before for individual fleet components, this table clearly illustrates how the A332 fleet is relatively underused, both in absolute and relative terms. EK could easily squeeze more utilization out of this fleet and this observation is reinforced by the relatively large fleet size of 29 units, which guarantees operational stability and reliability even at utilization rates above 14 hours. The frequent remarks that EK does not have the capacity to rapidly open new stations to cover for gaps in its network seem somewhat specious in light of these observations.

As stated above, the B772 fleet is also ever so slightly underused, but not to the same extent as the A332. In comparison to international standards though, this fleet is indeed displaying low utilization levels.

The A343, A345, A388 and B773 fleet are scheduled with pretty normal utilization rates, both within the EK fleet and in comparison to international standards of airline operations. Their ratio scores are in the vicinity of 100.

With utilization ratio scores of well over 100, the B77L and B77W fleets are clearly scheduled above average in terms of daily utilization. It is not surprising that these aircraft are also some of the newer additions to the EK fleet, and are displaying very satisfactory dispatch reliability levels. Utilization rates of over 15 hours are world leading and are typically only achieved by high quality carriers who have their act together in every aspect of their operational organization.

As already mentioned a couple of times before, the discussion of average daily utilization rates as an operational indicator has to be looked at in view of EK’s unique position as a wide body-only operator. The absence of narrow bodied aircraft implies that the airline’s shorthaul sectors need to be carried out by widebody equipment, although such missions are normally atypical for those types of aircraft. Regional and shorthaul flight operations tend to increase the aircraft’s ground time in between flights, hence decreasing utilization rates, increasing total number of cycles and decreasing average stage lengths.

As indicated on the bottom line of the table above, for its entire operation of 145 aircraft, Emirates is achieving an aggregate average daily utilization rate of 14 hours 16 minutes. That number is very respectable, because, while the widebody fleets of other major airlines may actually display higher utilization levels, when the narrow body fleets are brought into the equation, fleet wide utilization levels are dropping below those of EK.

To fully comprehend the fleet wide operational characteristics, one has to also look at a comparative table of average stage lengths for different fleet types:



This table is very similar to the one before. It re-lists the absolute and relative fleet sizes of each fleet component, followed by the absolute and relative number of cycles performed by each of those aircraft. The ratio of relative cycles to relative fleet size is indicative of what is the typical cycle length within the airline’s operation. The higher the number, the shorter the average sector this aircraft type operates. This ratio is standardized to a score of 100.

The high ratio scores of the A332 and B772 fleet are indicative of the very short average stage lengths of these aircraft compared to the average stage length for the entire airline. As discussed above, these aircraft have been moved to mostly regional routes provoking these kinds of operational characteristics.

The B77L fleet is displaying a ratio score of just 54, indicating exceptionally long average cycle lengths in comparison to the fleet wide averages. The B77L is deployed on relatively few sectors with relatively high average length. Such a low score increases the likelihood of operational irregularities to arise and the only way to operate a stable operation with these indicators is by deploying an aircraft type with a very high dispatch reliability rate. The B77L is such an aircraft and EK is obtaining a dispatch reliability of well over 99% out of these aircraft.

As discussed above, the overall average stage length for the airline’s entire operation is just 5 hours 44 minutes, which seems short for an wide body operation, but because of the absence of narrow body equipment, the airline is deploying wide body capacity on regional routes, bringing down the average stage length numbers. The numbers are in this respect not comparable to European and US airlines.



II.3. Detailed Operational Analysis for selected Fleet Types

An operational analysis is not complete without some flow charts pertaining to the deployment of individual aircraft throughout the network. A complete overview for the entire Emirates operation would be lengthy and space consuming, but the flow charts of the deployment of select aircraft types provides a nice illustration of how the aircraft cycle through the network and are as such integral part of the operational flow.

Below is an illustrative diagram representing the flow chart of the entire A388 operation. The chart indicates arrival and departure times of individual roundtrips from the DXB hub and how they fit in the entire schedule for this aircraft type. The resulting pattern illustrates how aircraft cycle through the network.



It is important to stress that this diagram provides a mere illustration of a potential operational patterns for this fleet component. Obviously, there are a very large number of degrees of freedom that allow the airline to interchange certain aircraft at certain times of the day, so the flow chart above represents just one of thousands of patterns, and the airline’s Operations Control Center will assign aircraft to certain routes based on the day’s particular dynamics. No two days are ever the same in airline operations and the diagram above clearly demonstrates where aircraft swaps are possible in case of irregular operations.

While the A388 operational setup caters for healthy sets of grounds times at the DXB homebase, it is worth noting that there are very few if any extended ground times that would allow for a permanent spare capacity to be available. It is clear then that any serious operational irregularities, which would require the temporary grounding of one of the airframes in this sub fleet will inevitably lead to escalating operational issues. Emirates can, however, get around these issues by deploying different equipment to stations such as LHR and CDG. LHR has in the past seen a number of B77W subs because of irregular A388 operations and the presence of LHR in the A388 operations is not only a commercial necessity but also an operationally stabilizing factor.

A final illustration of operational flow charts within the Emirates operation is that of the B77L operation:



Again, the above flowchart is merely illustrative and does in no way represent the unique way in which the airline’s 10-strong B77L fleet moves through its network. The operational setup of this subfleet caters for even more operational degrees of freedom than that of the A388 operation above, and there are thousands of alternative layouts to the one illustrated in the figure.

In comparison with the A388 flow chart, it is clear that the B77L operation includes more extensive DXB ground times. These prolonged ground times are essential to ensure a stable operation. This subfleet is not only relatively small, but it is also operating some of the longest sectors in the schedule, and this combination makes for a heightened susceptibility to operational irregularities to escalate throughout the network.

The airline has included a number of shorter flights in the flying schedule of this subfleet, not only to fill up holes in its schedule, but also to increase operational stability. In case of irregular operations, the Operations Control Center could, for instance, easily take the AMS rotation out of the program and replace it with B77W equipment, thereby almost immediately stabilizing the B77L operation.

The above flow charts are not only illustrative for the dynamics of an international airline operation, but they also testify to the professionalism of the people behind the scenes of the Emirates operation, which is run by some of the best and brightest in the industry.



Part III:
Concluding Remarks



Emirates of Dubai may be as enigmatic as it is mesmerizing to those outsiders who may be aviation enthusiasts but are not engaged in the daily running of an airline. While there may be legitimate questions about some aspects of this airline, it is clear that from an operational perspective, Emirates has surrounded itself with sufficient know how to build a stable operation which adequately caters to its customers.

The Emirates operation is built up consistently and with the necessary symmetry to extract as much advantage out of the Hub and Spoke model as possible. With the addition of each new aircraft to the operational setup, extra demand will be provoked because of the unique commercial characteristics of the Hub and Spoke model.

So far, this model seems to work for the airline, but, apart from some commercial risks, the airline is facing operational issues pertaining to over saturation of its hub operation around peak times. The preeminent challenge facing the airline will be to strike an adequate balance between commercial and operational viability and without a doubt, the airline’s future fleet decision have been taken with those elements in mind.

For those aviation enthusiasts and professionals who like to engage in operational analysis behind the scenes of the airline, Emirates and is and will remain one of the most interesting case studies in the industry.


User currently offlinejayeshrulz From India, joined Apr 2007, 1027 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 34458 times:

Very good Analysis. Will go through the whole thing tomorrow when i wake up.

Just a correction. You forgot to Mention DXB-YYZ in the A380 mission with 3 frequencies weekly.
And ure right, A380 is now the EK flagship.
Good work!!



Keep flying, because the sky is no limit!
User currently offlinejrfspa320 From Australia, joined Sep 2005, 240 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 34249 times:

Wow very thorough. I agree Emirates is a very interesting, and has to be one of the most successful airlines to date. I think EK is a great airline offering a great product for very competitive fares, albeit with some problems. Namely DXB which is packed at peak times. Recently passed through and wasnt very enjoyable, give me SIN anyday. T3 was packed, and there are very few facilities in the terminal. Also the remote boarding was at least a 15min bus journey! And was very ryanair esk. Also 10 abreast in the 777, I dont mind for medium haul but no thanks over 8 hours. However I think the AVOD, Service and food far exceeds any other airline I fly with (BA/QF/SQ/AC/CO)

User currently offlineanshuk From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2009, 485 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 34163 times:

Wonderful case study.

EK is certainly a very fascinating airline. One of the best topics for an aviation based case study. I'm impressed  

How much time did you spend on this? You should probably try to get this published somewhere.

Anyway, I think EK's system of waves is very, very good. It provides for comprehensive coverage throughout the day. You never end up having a wait of more than 3 hours in transit at DXB with the kind of schedules they provide. They found their market sector based upon their geographical location and ruthlessly exploited it. This is quite an achievement, starting as they did, by leasing that 737 from PIA.

Quoting jayeshrulz (Reply 4):
And ure right, A380 is now the EK flagship.

While there is no doubt that the A380 is the new face of EK, with such a small fleet, it has a long way to go before actually replacing the 77W, which in practice is the flagship of EK. Obviously, when all of their 90 frames are delivered it will be a different story, but as of now, I beg to differ.


User currently offlinecomorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 34126 times:

Thank you for posting a very interesting piece of work! This would make a tremendous operational benchmark for airlines.

Do you have access to data from other airlines? I presume it must be hard to get.

I guess you could also reduce EK's fleet to a representative airplane that flies an average stage length l with average utilization of x hrs/day.

I look forward to hearing how this data can be used in an operational metrics dashboard.

Great work!


User currently onlinewingman From Seychelles, joined May 1999, 2243 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 33960 times:

One question..how's your marriage?

All joking aside, to say that your post is thorough would be the understatement of the season. I'm not sure where you get this data or what you do for a living but if you're looking for work I'd suggest becoming an investment analyst in Transportation with one of the major brokerage firms. They pay well into the $millions per year if you're good at it.

By the way, the 380 is not only the confirmed flagship at EK, the airline has now officially blessed the 380 as The Whale Jet. Check out the latest issue of the Economist and see their new advert which highlights the aircraft in a full page ad. It could just be me but I believe that whale is munching its way through a school of plankton that look like tiny logos of AF, LH and BA.


User currently offlineQuokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 33516 times:

A good and thorough analysis of current usage trends.

Quoting HB-IWC (Reply 2):
It is safe to say that the A343 is not a strategic and long term component of the Emirates fleet


Has not EK already announced that they plan to replace its older aircraft (343, 772 and 773) as newer hardware becomes available?
That some aircraft types may be under-utilised by international standards is not surprising, given EK's maintaining a wide-body fleet. Moving to smaller aircraft might appear an option on some routes, but that may only compound the problems of congestion during peak periods and the number of available routes may be restricted by limitations on frequency.
Do you have any data on on time departure versus delays?


User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 43
Reply 10, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 32457 times:

Great analysis as always!

With the low utilization of the A330-200, I wish they'd start HEL which would give me perfect connections to MNL/CGK.



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineSchweigend From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 609 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 32425 times:

Egyptair at CAI may soon offer EK a challenge.

User currently offlineKFlyer From Sri Lanka, joined Mar 2007, 1226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 32347 times:

Yet another excellent analysis, in typical HB-IWC fashion. I thoroughly enjoyed this as much as your first article on this, Cracking EK Connectivity Code.

[Edited 2010-09-28 04:18:45]


The opinions above are solely my own and do not express those of my employers or clients.
User currently offlinetoptravel From Italy, joined Oct 2005, 144 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 31290 times:

Thank you for a wonderful report. I too have been following EK for some years now, I find it a very interesting study. Interesting to watch the build up of the 2am and 2pm banks now. The 5/10am is almost full when you look at the A/P. Amazing work they do at getting everything turned around in the 5/10am bank.

Basically I think they use their fleet well, think they have out grown the A330's, but still a good size to start an extra flight i.e. FCO's second flight and see that as the future of that type. Good airline I've been flying them out to Australia for some years now, always wonder as they get bigger will the service go down accordingly, so far so good., a few bumps but nothing major. A great operation all round by all EK employees, once again thank you for a great report I really enjoyed it.


User currently offlinefaedc3 From Ecuador, joined Jun 2007, 155 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 29852 times:

Oustanding report... thanks for sharing!

User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4503 posts, RR: 72
Reply 15, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 29189 times:

Quoting Quokka (Reply 9):
Do you have any data on on time departure versus delays?

As stated in the article, the congestion of DXB around the EK arrival and departure waves is still under control, but the entire system is indeed at risk of becoming congested. At this time, the 6am - 10am window is most at risk of becoming clogged and I believe the airline is well aware of the issue and will try to add upgraded equipment rather than addinal frequencies around this congested time windows whenever possible.

Airport and airspace congestion is an operational issue that is inherently linked to the Hub and Spoke model and there is unfortunately no immediate solution to this issue if the airline wants to offer the kind of connectivity to its traffic flows that is needed to keep the entire setup economically viable.

A number of airlines have resorted to the introduction of the so called de-peaked hub, which is characterized by a continuous flow of arrival and depatures rather than banks that are confined to time windows, but only the very largest of airline operations, such as Delta at Atlanta, are large enough to make such a system viable. Emirates has by far not yet reached the critical mass to instate such a system and I do not believe that its network and operational organization will ever allow for the merge to a depeaked hub.

As such, the airline will have to display some operational creativity in organizing its schedules, striking an optimal balance between what is operationally feasible and what is commercially viable.


User currently offlineFlying Belgian From Belgium, joined Jun 2001, 2390 posts, RR: 9
Reply 16, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 29160 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

As always with HB-IWC true solid work and study.


Life is great at 41.000 feet...
User currently offlineGlobalCabotage From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 602 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 29128 times:

Incredible effort put into this, bravo! Now when will we see EK metal in IAD, ORD, MIA, and other USA markets?

User currently offlinemozart From Luxembourg, joined Aug 2003, 2168 posts, RR: 13
Reply 18, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 28589 times:

I still wonder how they manage to put 77Ws on ULH routes like San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Houston... load restrict them? Or did they put in extra tanks?

User currently offline9V-SPJ From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 751 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 28063 times:

HB-IWC, once again, great work! I enjoyed reading your first piece on EK and liked this one even more! In one of your replies, you mentioned Delta at Atlanta. This was named 'Operation Clockwork' and although it really reduced delays at ATL, it was a disaster in terms of connections for the airline; they have since reverted back to a peaked schedule, but its not as peaked as it used to be!

One thing I was thinking about while reading your analysis: I wonder if EK will try to start tapping into the Asian leisure markets such as DPS, CEB, HKT etc? They could certainly take some traffic away from SQ if they wanted, but they may need smaller aircraft to do this.

What do you think?

9V-SPJ


User currently offlinesunrisevalley From Canada, joined Jul 2004, 4954 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 28009 times:

Quoting mozart (Reply 18):
I still wonder how they manage to put 77Ws on ULH routes like San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Houston... load restrict them? Or did they put in extra tanks?


I believe the 77W into SFO is limited to ~328-seats. It is interesting to look at EK's block times from DXB -SFO/LAX/IAH, compare them to the typical airway's distances and calculate back the ESAD's that they appear to be using. These are 7437,7635 and 7521nm respectively. It is also interesting to note that only once this month has the actual time exceeded the block time. DXB-SFO has a block time of 16hr. The range this month has been 14hr 10m to 15hr 51m. LAX is 16hr 25m and the range 14hr 57m to 16hr. 27m and IAH 16hr 20m and the range 14hr 16m to 16hr 28m. The max block to block time in the past 4-months has been 18hr 0m., 17hr 20m and 17hr 18m respectively.


User currently offlinemandargb From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 195 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 27752 times:

Wow.
I dont know what author does for living.
But too good analysis. If he is not working for EK, he must be hired by EK already.


User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 22, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 27269 times:

An absolutely phenomenal analysis as always HB-IWC! You definitely spent a lot of time writing this analysis out and it shows.

You never really realize how big Emirates really is till you do a study such as this. The airline has grown tremendously in the last five years, let alone ten! I often wonder if they change their strategy every few years in oder to keep up with that they are doing. It will be interesting to see what they do once more A380's come online which I am sure would free up a lot of 777's and A330's down the line.

I do have to wonder sometimes though, how big is too big? Economies of scale follows that ever so common bell curve and I wonder if Emirates will ever see the day that profitability starts to shrink with the expansion.

Looking forward to more from you.


User currently offlineQuokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 26669 times:

Quoting HB-IWC (Reply 15):
As stated in the article, the congestion of DXB around the EK arrival and departure waves is still under control, but the entire system is indeed at risk of becoming congested. At this time, the 6am - 10am window is most at risk of becoming clogged and I believe the airline is well aware of the issue and will try to add upgraded equipment rather than addinal frequencies around this congested time windows whenever possible.

Thank you for your reply. One of the things that Emirates tries to do right is "on time departures". On their ICE system and in the Business Class and First Class Lounges passengers are reminded of the importance of on-time departures and warned trhat their bags may be off-loaded.
Clearly, due to operating requirements the need for on-time departures is crucial due to the flow on effects of missed departures. What I was wondering was whether you had any quantative data that showed how far Emirates were successful in meeting their won goals; goals that will become all the more important as they expand and slots become more constrained.
Otherwise I am really impressed because your analysis offers a very clear picture of resource utilisation qnd where greater usage can be gained.


User currently offlineshankly From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 1541 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 26570 times:

Solid research with some interesting and to be frank surprising operational stats, particularly on the 332...those sector lengths are unbelievable. My first ever EK flight was on one of their A310's and over the years have gotten to experience most of the types through to the A380 last year (although their A345's still elude me)

With the A380 and 77W to form the bulk of its fleet in four years time, that's going to be a lot of underutilized range capacity. Now I know you have demonstrated that EK actually gets some pretty good utilization rates out of its heavy metal...in fact better than the lighter stuff, but I am wondering if EK will be the first airline that simply finds there is no where else to fly and that this might demand an alternate strategy of efficient sustenance rather than pure growth of the DXB people machine



L1011 - P F M
25 Quokka : Good question. I expect that it is one that EK will have to have addressed in the certain knowledge that there are many obstacles to expansion. We ha
26 United_fan : Very impressive!! I almost forgot EK flew the A343.
27 golli : A brilliant piece, as usual when HB-IWC touches the keyboard and a myth buster in the process. After reading numerous threads here on EK over the year
28 HB-IWC : As I see it, Emirates is more likely to hit operational constraints before commercial issue as part of its ongoing expansion. The current hub and spo
29 golli : This, in a nutshell, is the reason I could see the A332's working for EK for a long time. They are perfectly sized for a good chunk of the Europe mar
30 flyby519 : Amazing analysis, thank you for posting this. If I understand things correctly, EK will reach a point where they cant physically get enough aircraft i
31 airlineexpert : Very well done! Outstanding work. Do you have information or comments on EK's specific issues or strategy with the heat of the Middle East? I would gu
32 sunrisevalley : I wonder how many dedicated cargo movements there are each day and more specifically, at which times of the day? HB-IWC's very excellent work would s
33 HB-IWC : There are relatively few real longhaul flights with block times above 12 hours. These flights are restricted to the North American and Oceania sector
34 seabosdca : Thanks, as always, for a fascinating read. If they were to move to 5 banks, they would definitely lose some connectivity within each bank, but the ban
35 lightsaber : First, excellent as always HP-IWC. Thank you for taking the time to not only do the analysis, but to publish the work here on a.net. I'm sure i 'll re
36 Khaleej777 : I assume (maybe incorrectly) that EK is counting on the opening of JXB with its 5 runways and multiple terminals to allow an increase in the number of
37 A388 : As the others have said, again you provide us with an impressive analysis, thank you very much!!! Not having read the entire analysis yet I just have
38 david_itl : Belive they may be seat-restricted out of India and they are at the maximum. Therefore, the'll be want the United Arab Emirates and India to thrash o
39 AirIndia : the total weekly seats has maxed out from the UAE side. ( EK + FZ ) Thats the ideal scenario but the Indian carriers will lobby hard as the seat util
40 HB-IWC : With the numbers or transit traffic EK is carrying on its flights, connectivity is and remains the key word here. Arrival and departures banks need t
41 peanuts : Some of those block times are unreal. I would've never thought DXB-DKR is close to 11 hours??? On 4740 miles. Is this correct? Africa is a huge contin
42 HB-IWC : That block time seems indeed very odd, but it was taken straight from the EK published time tabled. I suspect there is a mistake for this particular
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