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When Will Virgin Start LHR - DXB Service?  
User currently offlineCmchardyfl From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2002, 175 posts, RR: 1
Posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2250 times:

Richard Branson has been out to Dubai a few times in the last 18 months talking to the 'Big Men' in the country. He has been talking about making the city the Virgin hub for the middle east for music, stores and the airline. He sounded very keen to begin a service to Dubai in march 2001, but on his next visit he posponed plans after the effects of Sept 11. The tourism industry in Dubai is back to 100% now with full hotels and aircraft loads to and from the UK. There are currently 8 flights a day between Dubai and London, not to mention a flight per day to both Birmaingham and Manchester.

Does anyone know when the service will begin?

Thanks in advance, and here are 2 articles from the local Gulf News from pre and post Sept 11.

This is an article from before Sept11

Branson expects Virgin Atlantic service to Dubai within year

British entrepreneur Richard Branson expects his airline, Virgin Atlantic, to start flying to Dubai within a year. Branson was ere to meet government officials as the first step towards establishing his Virgin group in the region.

Before leaving yesterday Branson said he had had discussions about setting up businesses here. "The principle one is Virgin Atlantic. As a result of the visit it is quite likely that we will start flying here within 12 months." He said General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Defence Minister, was "very encouraging". "He wants to see more competition and wants to see many more people from the UK and Europe coming here."

Branson said the first flights would be from London's Heathrow Airport. "We would look at one flight a day initially and try to build it from there. "I think there will be enough infrastructure to do one flight a day. But to go further there will need to be a lot more hotels built. But I hope we can fly two or three times a day within four or five years." In addition to scheduled flights, Branson is looking at Dubai as a holiday destination.

"There are some wonderful projects taking place in Dubai. I saw the Palm Island project today. It was very exciting to see the amount of hotels going to be created on the new reef."
The Palm Island project involves building an artificial island off the coast near the Dubai marina in Jebel Ali. The island, designed in the shape of a palm tree, will be the location for exclusive hotels and leisure facilities.

Branson expects Dubai to attract a lot more tourists because of its amenities, weather and the social scene. "My wife came and spent a week here, six weeks ago, and said what a wonderful place it was. It seems to have something for everybody."

Branson said he was impressed by the Dubai Internet City and that it would be a good place for the headquarters of Virgin Atlantic. "They were encouraging. It is certainly something which we'll explore. And it's very impressive how quickly they've managed to create something from nothing. We wouldn't have any difficulty in persuading people to work there.

"I think, in time, a number of our businesses would work here. Soft drinks would be one. The health and fitness clubs would be another. And possibly financial services, music and a megastore. There are a number of areas which we can look at. However, the first project will be the airline."

Branson described Dubai as the largest entrepreneurial company in the world. "The people I've met believe in what they're doing and they're completely committed. "There's a vision which has been set for them by those who are running the country. And they've all been working enormously hard to fulfil that vision."



This Article is post Sept 11

Virgin puts off plans to start Dubai flights
Dubai |By Anupa Prathap Mathew | 09-10-2001
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British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has postponed plans by over a year for his airline, Virgin Atlantic, to start flying to and from Dubai, as the terrorist attacks in the U.S. last month have badly hit the aviation industry.

Branson was in Dubai yesterday for the launch of the first Virgin Megastore at Deira City Centre, the first step towards establishing his Virgin Group in the region.

He said: "It is unlikely that we'll fly in the immediate future to and from Dubai, as the airline industry has been suffering the past few months.

"It will not happen in the present climate but, hopefully, things will be better again in nine months" time or so.

Branson had announced in March this year that daily Virgin Atlantic flights between Dubai and London will commence by March, 2002.

"The airline industry, especially those that fly across the Atlantic, are suffering. About 75 per cent of our business is trans-Atlantic. If we are lucky, we will still launch in Dubai by the end of next year but not before that."

He felt that for the airline industry to recover at the earliest possible from this slump, the current international political crisis has to resolve to some extent and people encouraged to take flights.

"We hope the world is a better world in six months' time," Branson noted.

"Lots of people are feeling uncomfortable about flying and, therefore, airlines are having to reduce capacity. The same happened when the Gulf War took place and, quite quickly after the war ended, everything came back to normal".

Despite the current slow-down in the tourism sector, Branson expects Dubai to attract a lot more tourists because of its amenities, weather and the nature of the emirate.

"I think that Americans (as tourists) are very fickle people and with a crisis at home, it is going to affect tourism. But if there is any country in the Middle East that they should feel safe about coming to, it is here (Dubai).


15 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMarco From United Arab Emirates, joined Jul 2000, 4169 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2227 times:

I think the market is saturated on the DXB-LHR route. While EK's flights usually go out full, BA's are quite empty, considering it's the high season.

Also I would expect VS to re-start ORD and YYZ before starting flights to DXB!




Proud to be an Assyrian!
User currently offlineCmchardyfl From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2002, 175 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2217 times:

BAs flights are not empty. Infact you will be unlikely to get a flight beween Dubai and London between now and September without a lot of hassle. My family were late to book a flight between Dubai and the UK this year. They wanted to fly BA back today infact and the earliest they could get 3 seats was July 17th! It is like this every year. To get flights for more than one person back to the UK on a desired date you need to book at least 3 months in advance. Most families tend to book flights to the UK from Dubai between Christmas and March in order to get the date they want. I have lived in Dubai 8 years and it is the same every year. With 35000 Brits and 30000 Americans living in the country, not to mention the thousands of other Europeans and North Americans living in the area, there is an enormous demand for flights to Euroupe.
You tend to see flights between London and Dubai 1/2 to 3/4 full between London and Dubai during June, July and early August as it is very hot and not as many people come out. However, good luck booking a flight back between mid August and mid September. It sounds funny but thousands of families are trying to get back for the start of school in early September after their summer break. I have done these trips for the past 8 years now, and let me tell you, it is MAD.


User currently offlineKHI747 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 1617 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2213 times:

I completely agree with Cmchardyfl.....DXB-LON-DXB is a busy route year round with high yields as well....for EK this route is their number one...i dont think there is one empty flight in the entire year.Even BA does well on this route...they dont send 14 weekly 777's for nothing..i definately would not consider this route saturated.

User currently offlineCmchardyfl From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2002, 175 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 2133 times:

Does anybody have any more information on this future service?

User currently offlineB747-4U3 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2002, 991 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 2127 times:

BA's services to DXB are always full. The only time I have been on an almost empty DXB flight was on Christmas Eve. Every other time it has been packed.

User currently offlineMarco From United Arab Emirates, joined Jul 2000, 4169 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 2093 times:

BA flights to and from Dubai this summer are quite empty. I know this for a fact. I checked with my travel agent and he said the flights are wide open for most of the months of June, July and August. Also, I know three people who travelled (3 seperate flights) LHR-DXB in June and each flight was empty. The flights to LHR go out fuller than the LHR-DXB flights but with two daily BA flights, 4 daily EK flights, more flights by PIA/BR/BG this route is saturated. Also, 30,000 Americans do not live in the UAE, much less than 30,000 live here. I would know as I helped my father with his doctorate thesis and we researched this topic. However about 30,000 Brits do live here.

In conclusion, I'm not saying that the yields are low or that the loads are horrible, but BA does have a harder time filling their seats and until the loads improve I do not see the need for VS to start flights to DXB.



Proud to be an Assyrian!
User currently onlineCrosswind From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 2603 posts, RR: 58
Reply 7, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 2086 times:
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The market for flights between the UK and Dubai is relatively small compared to the number of seats on offer.

Emirates operate a large number of flights from the UK to Dubai, but for the majority of their passengers Dubai is just a transit stop before they continue on to other Middle Eastern, African, Asian or Australian destinations.

Qatar Airways have done the same thing as Emirates and Singapore Airlines, building a successful network via a hub with a relatively small O&D market which would never be able to support those flights alone... Otherwise they wouldn't be able to fill an A330 every day out of Heathrow flying to somewhere most of the population has never heard of  Big grin

A huge number of passengers travel every day from a range of UK airports to Amsterdam on KLM/KLM uk. Do all these passengers mean there is a corresponding demand for flights to Amstrerdam? No, over half of KLM's UK-Holland passengers are interlining, and could quite easily have booked flights via LHR/CDG/BRU/CPH/ZRH/MXP/EWR/PHL/ATL/ORD/DXB/SIN/HKG/NRT or any other hub you could mention!!!!

The point-to-point market is well served by the current existing direct services, it doubtful that Virgin would be able to mount a viable London-Dubai service. They would have no feed in Dubai, and have fairly limited Trans-Atlantic feed in London. If you look at Virgin's current routes, they all have strong O&D traffic. I just don't think Dubai has much slack left in market that Virgin could take up...

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CROSSWIND


User currently offlineCmchardyfl From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2002, 175 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 2033 times:

I have flown from to Dubai to London and back 3 times this year already. I dont see how people can say the route is saturated as it is clearly not. I flew return in December, February and April. Once on BA and twice on Emirates to both LGW and LHR. Every flight was almost full or was full. The latest flight I took I was lucky enough to get bumped up to business class as the economy was already full due to me arriving late. Shortly after Sept 11, BA cancelled their second return flight of the day but it wasnt long until they brought it back. They also used to fly the route as London-Dubai-Muscat-Dubai-London. However they stopped the onward connection to Muscat and increased the frequency of flights. Emirates just increased their flights to LGW to twice a day and are upgrading one of the flights to a 777 due to high demand. I know people use Emirates to fly onwards to the far east, but not as many as you think.
My family has flown the DXB-London route frequently over the past years and it has always been busy. Two BA staff members were out at the flying school I am at in March. One works in operations and the other is a flight attendant who frequently flies on the LHR-DXB-LHR route. Both say the route is extremely busy. The guy from operations said the UK-Middle East routes are one of their best routes with the LHR-DXB being the best. He said they spent no time in getting back to the normal 14 weekly flights after Sept 11. They dont send 14 777s per week to Dubai for nothing.
Virgin did extensive market research on the route while Richard Branson has been out to visit.
He still wants the route. If you read the 2 articles above, pre Sept 11 he quotes,

"I hope we can fly two or three times a day within four or five years."
I know this was pre Sept 11, but still, he would not say that hed like to eventually get 2 or 3 flights a day to DXB if there was no demand!

This is what he said post Sept 11.

"If we are lucky, we will still launch in Dubai by the end of next year but not before that."

Hotels are already nearly on 100% capacity once again and he said he is looking towards Dubai as a holidy destination. There are hundreds of new hotels and resorts being built with the new Palm Island project. Its not that there is little demand to fly into the airport, it is just that Virgin is struggling with North America. Once the airline is back to normal, I am sure we will see the Dubai service.


User currently offlineMarco From United Arab Emirates, joined Jul 2000, 4169 posts, RR: 11
Reply 9, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 2025 times:

have flown from to Dubai to London and back 3 times this year already. I dont see how people can say the route is saturated as it is clearly not. I flew return in December, February and April. Once on BA and twice on Emirates to both LGW and LHR.

I've flown BA too many times to count to LHR and back. Once we only had about 50 pax on a B777. You fly only during the peak times, while I fly more regularly throughout the year.

Every flight was almost full or was full. The latest flight I took I was lucky enough to get bumped up to business class as the economy was already full due to me arriving late. Shortly after Sept 11, BA cancelled their second return flight of the day but it wasnt long until they brought it back.

Wrong. They only cancelled two weekly flights which were brought back.

They also used to fly the route as London-Dubai-Muscat-Dubai-London. However they stopped the onward connection to Muscat and increased the frequency of flights.

That was about six years ago, we're talking about now.

Emirates just increased their flights to LGW to twice a day and are upgrading one of the flights to a 777 due to high demand. I know people use Emirates to fly onwards to the far east, but not as many as you think.

Again you are wrong. Most of the pax from LHR/LGW are connecting pax, not O&D pax. Most of them use the DXB hub to connect to Asia/Africa/Australia.

My family has flown the DXB-London route frequently over the past years and it has always been busy.

I've been flying BA on the DXB-LHR route since 1993, and anyway this isn't a competition...who cares how many times you've flown DXB-LHR?

Two BA staff members were out at the flying school I am at in March. One works in operations and the other is a flight attendant who frequently flies on the LHR-DXB-LHR route. Both say the route is extremely busy.

Why is it then that they only manage to fill their planes completely on a few weeks in June and December and they fly empty planes all year round. My travel agent has been trying to get me a ticket to Montreal on BA, and the only problem is the LHR-YUL part. DXB-LHR flights on BA are wide open this summer.

The guy from operations said the UK-Middle East routes are one of their best routes with the LHR-DXB being the best.

Did I say it wasn't? In the Middle East DXB is probably the best.

He said they spent no time in getting back to the normal 14 weekly flights after Sept 11. They dont send 14 777s per week to Dubai for nothing.

Yields are high and load factors acceptable but they certainly don't need extra capacity at the moment.

Virgin did extensive market research on the route while Richard Branson has been out to visit.

I know that. I saw him launching his store in City Center.

He still wants the route. If you read the 2 articles above, pre Sept 11 he quotes,

"I hope we can fly two or three times a day within four or five years."
I know this was pre Sept 11, but still, he would not say that hed like to eventually get 2 or 3 flights a day to DXB if there was no demand!


Branson has been known to talk ALOT. He was also supposed to start flights to Australia, HK, and re-start flights to YYZ/ORD.

This is what he said post Sept 11.

"If we are lucky, we will still launch in Dubai by the end of next year but not before that."


Good luck to him.

Hotels are already nearly on 100% capacity once again

Not really. This is the slowest season of the year. Tourists come here in winter. The Dubai summer surprises is the only event at the moment and that attracts people from the GCC, not international tourists. Hotels are not as full as you think. If they were five star hotels wouldn't be giving out rooms for one night with dinner and breakfast for 300DHS (90$).

and he said he is looking towards Dubai as a holidy destination. There are hundreds of new hotels and resorts being built with the new Palm Island project.

You're missing the point. I'm not talking about the developments in Dubai, I live right next to everything you're talking about. I know what's going on and I'm not saying that Dubai isn't a holiday destination so don't stray from the topic.

Its not that there is little demand to fly into the airport, it is just that Virgin is struggling with North America. Once the airline is back to normal, I am sure we will see the Dubai service.

The demand is just enough for the carriers on the route. BA has 2 dailies, EK 5 dailies (LHR&LGW), BG/BR/PIA have several weekly flights. That covers the demand. Unless every flight is reporting 100% load factors with very high yields, I really don't think there's the need for three more daily VS flights.



Proud to be an Assyrian!
User currently offlineCmchardyfl From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2002, 175 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 2006 times:

Marco

I understand some of the things you are saying, but you cant possibly contradict everything I just said. I lived in Dubai since 1994 and yes many of flights have been on peak times, but others have been February, October. I have never been on a nearly empty BA flight. Yes, during the summer months June, July, August the the flights are not nearly full from LHR-DXB. But flights from DXB-LHR are packed during those months. It is a fact that my family tried to book a flight from DXB to LHR for the second, but could not get a flight together until the 17th July.
That information on the Palm Island project is also very relevant. When hotels start openind around that whole Dubai Marina area tourists are going to start flooding in. Then will come the flights. The charter airlines have also started comming in numbers. I fly piper warriors out of DXB when Im back. It shocked me when I saw 2 G- registered and 3 D- registered Britannia 763s between November and February. Tourism is still hot. Yes those are big months during winter, but my dad who works in construction said that the Burg Al Arab is 100% full for summer and the JBH at 85%. Those are still excellent numbers for summer.

Anyway lets stop arguing about it. Sorry, Im going on and on. Well see, they either come out or they dont. Just on another note. I am abroad studying the JAR ATPLs at the moment but actually live accross the road from Spinneys Umm Suqeim. Do you fly? I have my UAE PPL so if your intersted we should meet up and go for a fly. Anyway,

Cheers

Chris


User currently offlineMarco From United Arab Emirates, joined Jul 2000, 4169 posts, RR: 11
Reply 11, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 1979 times:

Hey Chris,

I do agree with you about tourism to Dubai being on the rise, and yes the palm islands (which will host 40 hotels EACH) should increase tourism however I just think that it would be wiser to wait for the pax numbers to increase, as most pax are connecting beyond LHR, and well VS's route network is nothing compared to BA's and EK's!

Unfortunately I do not fly, although I've always wanted to. I've just never gotten around to registering and stuff. Oh well...I'm leaving to college (Boston University) in 10 days though. I live close to the American School of Dubai (near the old spinney's) so if you're in Dubai anytime soon we could meet up or something!

Regards!



Proud to be an Assyrian!
User currently offlineCmchardyfl From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2002, 175 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1953 times:

Marco

Thats cool. Im abroad until first week of December, but ill be back in Dubai from then until April. If you are back from uni anytime then we could go for a fly. Nothing beats spotting in Dubai than from right on the apron and in a warrior. Round trips from Dubai-Sharjah-Ras Al Khaimah-Dubai are good fun with touch n goes in each airport. Drop me an email sometime, its on my profile.

Cheers

Chris


User currently offlineMarco From United Arab Emirates, joined Jul 2000, 4169 posts, RR: 11
Reply 13, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1949 times:

Hey Chris,

That sounds great. I'll be back in December for about two weeks and would love to go flying/spotting with you. Do you have MSN?

regards



Proud to be an Assyrian!
User currently offlineCmchardyfl From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2002, 175 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1941 times:

Marco
I have MSN. chris_mchardy@hotmail.com Nick Name 'Dime Bar'.


User currently offlineDonder10 From Canada, joined Oct 2001, 6660 posts, RR: 21
Reply 15, posted (12 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1932 times:

Not sufficient O&D.If everything Branson said came true Virgin would have a fleet bigger than BA.

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