Any thread dealing with EK
, the A380, and potential 787/A350 mega order, and now the possibility of 748Is as well, leads to drama......here is my point of view, and I will try to avoid the touchy subjects of religion, politics, nationalism, prejudice and the like.
Go back thirty or so years, who would have thought that airlines like SQ
would evolve into two of the world's leading carriers? Back then, SQ
was small airline flying 737-100s and CX
was a regional airline with CV880s, times certainly have changed things. Air travel and airlines in Asia boomed in the past decades.....and airlines CX
, etc became world players; not to mention airlines like Asiana and Evergreen seemingly came out of nowhere. Lets go back twenty or so years, did anyone really expect commerical aviation in China to explode in the manner in which it has in recent times? Chinese airlines fly the newest and most advanced airplanes on offer from Boeing and Airbus, and China orders 100s of narrow-bodies almost on a annual basis; China has come a long way from CAAC and its hodge podge fleet of scary Russian hand me down airplanes, hasn't it? How about India? For years, the Indian aviation scene was strangled by politics and interference from government leaders who could not seem to get anything right; that situation has changed as well with private carriers such as Jet Airways making a huge entry into the world markets operating a new and advanced fleet of the finest Boeing and Airbus airplanes and offering world-class service. Even Air India seems to be moving forward after years of stagnation. A lot has changed.......
Back to EK
, they are looking to become a world carrier connecting cities world wide through a central efficient hub in Dubai......there business plan is sound: they have used SQ
's model and will basically super-size it...more airplanes, more cities, bigger airplanes, etc. Will it work? Probably, so far the plan seems to be on track. EK
has three things going for it: (1) Dubai is in a good location to move passengers from Europe, Africa and the Middle East to India, Asia and Oceania.....those are enormous markets - many of which are growing; those in the Americas may be a bit skeptial about EK
's plans because EK
's route structure will never be that interesting for those residing in North and South America simply due to geography, (2) Dubai itself is trying to reinvent itself as a major tourist, business and second home destination (lets say the capital of the modern Arab world) and EK
is an integral part of this plan......the construction thats going on in Dubai is simply mind boggling (everything from the tallest building in the world, to subways, to geography changing islands on the coast) and Dubai wants and needs to establish itself as one of the major crossroads of the world, thus EK
's continued growth, and (3) EK
sees the opportunity to become the leading carrier of the Middle East.....this is a growing market that is just beginning to travel on the broad scale and the possibilities are huge. EK
will play ""the Arab card"" in key markets and why shouldn't they? Airlines worldwide, from BA
, have capitalized on their unique strengths and cultures to succeed.
Also consider that the management of EK
is giving our friend, media-happy Sir Richard, a run for the money when it comes to negotiating deals with the help of the media. Look at the latest round......EK
would order another 55 A380s if they could, but they cant due to airport constraints so they wont: lots and lots of BS
, but it certainly caught the attention of people worldwide including some usually very astute a.net members. How about the never ending A350/787 drama...EK
will order a 100 or more of the next generation airplanes but neither Boeing or Airbus can seem to come up with a design that is satisfactory to EK
: first the airplane was too small, then it was not advanced enough, then it did not have enough range, then it was too heavy, etc, etc. Lots of talk and little action. Now its the 748I.....EK
likes that airplane too, sadly, its too heavy and/or does not have enough range and it either has too many or not enough seats. EK
does have a huge number of A380s on order......but the last twelve were very much related to Airbus and settling matters concerning the A388F, the cancelled A346HGWs and the A380 program delays (sorry, Airbus crowd but everything is conencted)....EK
is opportunistic (as they should be) and saw an opportunity to sign up for additional A380s at very sharp pricing (and, no, they were not for free).....EK
will figure out what to do with the airplanes later on when they are delivered. In the past couple of years, aside from follow up orders for the 773ER and the additional A380s, EK
cancelled the A346 order and has not really done much else. But, they do keep all of us talking and the world media is watching what EK
is planning next; how is that for great ""free"" advertising?
Finally, although EK
does have lots of airplanes on order......they will soon be considering returning the leased A343 fleet, retiring some early build 777s and at some point in the near future, replacement of the A332 fleet will commence. The fleet will balance out to some extent, its not all about expansion. Like SQ
does not plan to fly its airplanes for extended periods.......fly an airplane for 10 to 12 years, sell it at a good price on the second hand market, minimize heavy maintenance expenses, and move along does seem to be their plan.
The big issue that faces EK
, in my opinion, is intense competition from the airlines of Dubai's neighbors....Qatar, Eithad, Gulf, etc seem to have big plans as well with huge expansion plans in place: one Gulf mega hub will work, but can three or four hubs all co-exist? Big, big issue.... and I certainly dont know the answer. Also consider that EK
makes lots and lots of money shuttling ex-pat laborers in and out of Dubai from their homes world wide and India is a big piece of this pie, I dont think that the new Indian carriers are going to stand by and not compete with EK
. To summarize, thegrowth and development of EK
will be fascinating to watch and study....they are the ""next big thing"" and EK
does face its challenges, but their business plan and aircraft orders are anything but crazy....controversial: absolutely, crazy: no way.