Capacity constraints will limit the cheap fares that airlines can offer coming out of COVID-19 according to Emirates – the world’s largest international airline.
Emirates divisional vice president Australasia Barry Brown said: “there will be a lot less capacity than we had in the market pre-COVID, so I think there will be seats that offer a great deal for passengers but then there’ll be stepped increases to at least try and make the flights profitable for us.”
Pre COVID, Emirates had 100 flights a week into Australia, now it’s just 10 and they are all capped to uneconomic levels.
Those caps have recently been lifted to as many as 62 on inbound Perth flights but that is about 300 less than the full capacity of a 777-300R used on the route. Mr Brown urges the government to speed a further easing of the caps.
“The corporate sector wants to get going again, particularly from Western Australia”.
“The mining sector – for instance – wants to get to Africa and back and it is proving a challenge,” Mr Brown said.
“Our corporate focus groups tell us that they want to get travelling again and while video conferencing is great, but you can’t beat a face to face meeting.”
“I think governments are starting to say we need the economies to start kicking over. So hopefully they can find a way that we can start operating back to where we were pre-COVID in the not too distant future,” he said.
Mr Brown denies the fare gouging tag put on airlines and says many of the airline’s passengers are in economy class.”
He says Emirates was one of the first airlines to introduce widespread refunds to passengers and also the first to introduce COVID-19 travel insurance for travellers.
And Emirates is leading the way – with Qatar Airways – in reconnecting the globe. From November 4th the airline will be flying to 99 destinations, 31 of which are in Europe.
And of those destinations, 14 will be operated by the A380 superjumbo.
Underscoring Emirates drive to reconnect the globe its Dubai – Heathrow route is now the world’s busiest international service but still well down on last year.
Putting scale to the COVID downturn the latest figures from the Official Airline Guide report that the top 20 international routes are down 64 per cent on the same time last year.
But re-starting services is a step by step process, particularly to and from Australia and New Zealand warns Mr Brown.
“It’s a bit like starting with a new airline startup. How do we approach the market? It’s just going back to the basics.”
Onboard Emirates has been at the forefront of crew and passenger health innovations.
“Passengers feel relatively safe on us, Mr Brown said.
“We’ve put another crew member on board to sanitize the lavatories every 45 minutes but we have closed our renowned onboard lounge and also our showers.”