According to a Malaysian's Business Times, Emirates will operate daily into Kuala Lumpur effective May 1, 2002. After all the glump in the Malaysian aviation scene, with Cathay reducing their thrice daily services into 2, reduction of 1 daily flights from SIA, the suspension of flights into Kuala Lumpur by some airlines, there's finally some good news about it!
Another Middle Eastern carrier, Qatar Airways is expected to inaugurate direct services into Kuala Lumpur this December. China Southern had increased their flights into Kuala Lumpur. Some sources qoute that some Chinese carrier are expected to inaugurate services into Kuala Lumpur, probably China Eastern or Air China. ANA plans to fly daily into Kuala Lumpur from May 2002 onwards, but there had been no news about it after Sept. 11 incident. Lauda Air is going to increase another weekly flight to both Sydney and Vienna from January 2002.
Here's the press release taken from Business Times:
DUBAI-based Emirates Airlines will operate daily flights between Dubai and Kuala Lumpur with the introduction of three additional direct flights from May 1 next year. The airline currently flies four times a week between the two cities via Bangladesh with a Boeing 777-200. Emirates' announcement comes at a time when the Malaysian Government calls on carriers in the Gulf to increase their flights to Kuala Lumpur to cater to the growing number of tourists from West Asia. Malaysia saw 102,000 tourists from West Asia in the first nine months of this year and this is expected to grow to 120,000 by December. "Malaysia is a popular tourist destination, particularly with honeymooners from West Asia. (That's because) Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board does an excellent job of promoting the country in West Asia," Emirates senior general manager for commercial operations (West Asia and Pacific Rim) Keith A Longstaff told Business Times.
Emirates' passenger load factor, the percentage of seats filled by paying customers, between Dubai and Kuala Lumpur averages 68 per cent. Longstaff said like other airlines around the world, Emirates has also been affected by the events of September 11 terrorist attacks although nowhere near as severe as the US and European airlines "The reason is that we don't operate flights to the US. Therefore we have very little dependency on traffic to and from the US," explained Longstaff. Emirates saw an initial drop in passenger load factor on its European routes of 22 per cent after the September 11 attacks, from 87 per cent to 65 per cent. However, it has since rebounded to about 80 per cent.
Longstaff pointed out that the decline stemmed mainly from a drop in first- and business-class passengers. "Following the September 11 attacks, many companies were telling their staff to stop traveling and this has affected the business traffic," he added. However, economy class travel on Emirates is still holding strong, enabling the airline to maintain a healthy overall load factor. "Most airlines have become extremely reliant on the more lucrative first- and business-class content and thus neglecting to focus on getting the right mix in economy class. "So when people in the first- and business-class stopped traveling due to the September 11 attacks, these airlines find themselves depending on their economy class for survival. However, by this time, their economy class mix may not be as good as it should have been," explained Longstaff. Unlike other airlines, Emirates has concentrated its sales on all three classes of services.
"In addition, our economy class passengers are made up of leisure travelers, budget travelers and labor traffic. Thus, we have a healthy mix of economy class passengers. "That's why we have not been affected as much as other airlines because we had a very strong economy class product, which has not declined dramatically since September 11," said Longstaff.
He also said unlike its European routes, passenger traffic on the Asia-Pacific routes is still running strong, with the exception of Australia and Japan. "Passenger traffic in these two markets declined after their governments issued a travel advisory restricting their citizens from visiting any country allied with the US," said Longstaff. As a result, Emirates' passenger volume to and from Australia declined by 50 per cent following the attacks although it is starting to recover. The airline flies 10 times a week to Australia via Singapore. Longstaff, meanwhile, said fortunately for Emirates the decline in passenger volume from Japan does not affect the airline much because it currently does not operate flights to Japan. Emirates' passengers have to connect to a Japanese airline flight in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok or Bombay.
Currently, the West Asia market contributes about 45 per cent of Emirates' global revenue while Europe contributes another 33 per cent. The remaining 22 per cent comes from the Asia-Pacific market. India, Pakistan and Australia are Emirates' three biggest markets in the Asia-Pacific region. They each contribute 20 per cent. "Malaysia's contributions to the airline's Asia-Pacific revenues is still small at 3 per cent while Singapore contributes 5 per cent and Thailand 4 per cent," said Longstaff.
Longstaff said prior to September 11, Emirates has been growing at an annual rate of about 20 per cent both in terms of revenues and passenger load factor. "We have managed to remain profitable since the day we started, except for one year as a result of the Gulf War. "And last year, we had a record year. We increased our profits by 40.2 per cent over the previous year. This year, it is going to be tough," said Longstaff. The airline had expected its financial performance results this year to be better than last year. As things stand, this is no longer likely. "Whether we will lose money this year, I don't know. If we break even, we would be very lucky. If we are profitable, we will be exceedingly lucky," said Longstaff.
But one thing is for certain: Emirates will proceed with its plans. "Even if we made losses, delivery of our new aircraft and plans to add flight services to Malaysia will proceed as scheduled. "Indeed, we haven't laid off any staff or cancelled any (aircraft) orders. We have done nothing, except increased our sales efforts in the marketplace, cut costs and froze our staff numbers," said Longstaff. The airline, which carried 5.7 million passengers last year, currently has a fleet of 36 planes. These comprise 18 A330-200s, three A310-300s, one A300-600R, nine 777-200s, one 747-400 and four 777-300s. Emirates has also ordered 27 new aircraft, comprising six A340-500s, eight 777-300s, six A330-200s and seven A380s. The aircraft are expected to be delivered between 2002 and 2008. With the delivery of the A340-500s, the world's longest-range passenger aircraft in 2003, Emirates plans to start operating flights to and from the US.