Emirates Adds Second Daily Dubai To Seattle Flight

Emirates’ growth strategy at times can be a bit puzzling, especially given how many A380s they have. While airlines like Etihad, Korean Air, and Qantas have to put thought into which routes they operate the A380 with (given how few they operate), Emirates seems to be willing to fly them just about anywhere.

Emirates-A380

In general you’d think that Emirates is eventually headed for all A380 service to North America. They already fly the A380 to Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto. And in many cases they fly the A380 to destinations even when demand isn’t actually there, but rather out of pride (as they’ve unarguably done in Dallas, around the same time that Etihad and Qatar added service from their respective hubs to Dallas).

But there’s one big hiccup to a potential “all A380 service to North America” plan. And that hiccup is Seattle. Something tells me flying an Airbus A380 to Boeing’s hometown wouldn’t be well received. Now, for what it’s worth the airport isn’t able to handle the A380 yet, but something tells me that even it could, no airline would dare fly an A380 there.

Despite having only been added a bit over three years ago (in March 2012), it seems Emirates’ Seattle route is doing quite well, as Emirates has just announced that they’ll add a second daily frequency between Dubai and Seattle as of July 7, 2015.

Seattle-3

The current frequency is operated by a Boeing 777-300ER with the following schedule:

EK229 Dubai to Seattle departing 9:35AM arriving 12:55PM
EK230 Seattle to Dubai departing 5:40PM arriving 6:55PM (+1 day)

The additional daily frequency will be operated by a Boeing 777-200LR with the following schedule:

EK227 Dubai to Seattle departing 3:15AM arriving 6:55AM
EK228 Seattle to Dubai departing 9:40AM arriving 10:55AM (+1 day)

The flight timings nicely complement one another, both for people traveling between the US and Dubai, as well as for those passengers connecting onwards.

Emirates

This makes Seattle the only US city to have 2x daily Emirates flights. New York has 4x daily A380 flights, but aside from that all the other frequencies are just 1x daily.

Bottom line

Up until now, Emirates’ strategy for growing US routes has always been to simply place a once daily A380 on a route. It’s interesting to see Emirates try a different growth strategy for once by offering multiple daily 777 frequencies rather than a single A380 frequency, even if it is a bit “forced.”

Going forward, would you rather see Emirates offer 1x daily A380 service or 2x daily 777 service on a given route?

Comments

  1. It’s not just the whole Boeing-in-Seattle thing. I read some stuff (originally posted YEARS ago) that said that SeaTac wasn’t ready for an A380 – not enough taxiway clearance, the gates were too narrow, etcetera.

    Could also be that Emirates wants the cargo capacity of 777s, too.

  2. Given EK’s huge expansion in the USA the past few years, I don’t really see the need for EK to be partners with AS or B6 or any US domestic carrier. I still remember the days when JFK was the only US destination.
    Anyway, I recall reading articles from a few years ago that EK eventually wants a transpacific flight. I’m not sure if it will ever come to fruition but given EK’s strong base in SYD and AKL, and EK’s presence in the US west coast, who knows what holds for EK in the future? 😉

  3. If an airline makes the most profit by flying an Airbus into Seattle, they sure as hell would do it. I am 100% sure it’s only a problem of readiness..

    JetBlue used to fly their A320s to Paine Field (Boeing Factory) for wi-fi equipage.

  4. @ Lucky – even if Emirates wants to fly A380 2x daily to some destinations, don’t you think airports are a bottleneck because they are limited on how many A380 they can accept? For example, I’d read recently that some additional airlines want to fly A380 to IAH (on top of Emirates and Lufthansa) but it’s just not possible due to airport limitations.

  5. @Abdel Rahim Abdallah – Like many airports, SEA wasn’t built to accomdate the A380. It could be made ready with renovations but if the airport doesnt want to support (accomodate) the A380, all they have to do to keep it out is refuse to pay for the renovations. Emirates can want to fly it there, and perhaps it would be profitable, but unless Emirates is willing to put up the money for the airport renovations it will be easy enough to keep the airport A380 free.

  6. Actually I think there are so many aviation enthusiasts here that an A380 would draw lots of people to watch the plane come and go, regardless that Boeing did not build it. However, I saw something a few years back that indicated Sea-Tac could not handle A380 and modifications were essentially not possible due to the A380 wingspan. The article indicated that it would remain as an emergency landing possibility, but the airport could not handle the plane on a routine basis. Could have been Boeing propaganda…

  7. I know that EK would very much like to increase frequency to Toronto from the 3x weekly A380 they have now, as well as add additional Canadian cities, but are getting major pushback from the Government to allow it, and in fact they have limited access to this point. I expect Etihad and Qatar would like to increase as well, as they are only being allowed to operate 3x week frequencies into Toronto and Montreal respectively. I bet EK could drop 2 A380s a day into Toronto and fill them, easily, just for starters.

  8. The economics of multiple frequencies as opposed to 1 bigger aircraft only works when you have a lot of connecting traffic. EK won’t have a ton of connecting traffic on most of their US flights, so the economics of having multiple frequencies probably doesn’t work.

    JFK and SEA are the largest hubs for their 2 biggest US partners, so it makes sense that those would be the 2 cities where they have multiple frequencies to time with connections

  9. Ben,
    Do you think this is the same reason Emirates flies the 777 to ORD. I would imagine between the size of Chicago and the sheer size and connection possibilities at ORD the route could support the A380, but it seems Emirates is content to use the 777 there as well?

  10. I don’t think any airline pays attention to what company’s planes they fly to SEA. Delta is building a hub there mostly focused on using Airbus A330s and Embraers … and just snubbed Boeing on a large widebody order … and no one seems to care.

    That said, the local political will to refurb the airport to support A380s may be lower in SEA than at other airports.

  11. A lot of chatter on airliners.net that this flight is partly supported by EK ferry Boeing parts over to DXB instead of paying FedEx or UPS to do so. Passenger revenue is sort of the gravy on top of the cargo.

  12. Definitely prefer a once daily A380 over 777. The J seats on their 777 aren’t competitive to what QR or EY offer. Being based out of ORD, EK is my last choice because of this.

  13. Any speculation as to why none of the ME3 aren’t serving ATL? I don’t get that… Delta can’t be such a bulwark and they certainly would have a market for Indian and African travel. I’d love to hear people’s views.

  14. I’ll gladly accept two 777 flights a day in SEA. Hopefully award tickets will be easier to find.

  15. Take note that the 77L has fully flat seats in business class while the 77W does not. So if flying out of SEA I recommend taking the 77L in business class.

  16. I’ve been working for Boeing for 8+ years here at Everett but recently became a A380 fan after flying EK a380 on two legs, SQ one 1 and QZ on 1. This is a interesting news… I was really hoping EK will do A380 at Seattle some day. My next adventure will be on Etihad first apartment on a380!

  17. @ Joseph:
    “Take note that the 77L has fully flat seats in business class while the 77W does not. So if flying out of SEA I recommend taking the 77L in business class.”

    As far as I know the seats on the 77L and 77Ws are identical- both are angled flat seats, in a 2 x 3 x 2 configuration. In fact, some of the 77Ws have the newer, wider TV screens, which none of the 77Ls have.

    Also, from what I understand, 777s have huge cargo capacity and can be useful for ferrying spare parts from Boeing to Dubai.

  18. @ elsie — I’m sure they will eventually, but keep in mind that Delta is a huge connecting market, and a Delta fortress. None of the three carriers partner with Delta, which probably explains it.

  19. @ Will — It’s a brand new route for them, so I think long term it could be operated by an A380. But they have to start with something. And I believe Chicago isn’t A380-ready yet. I could be mistaken, though.

  20. @ Ivan Y — Yeah, some airports definitely are, though if the interest is truly there then I think most airports would be open to increasing A380 capacity at their airport.

  21. Lots of Indian techies will be happy to use Emirates: given the numerous destinations in India they fly to on a daily (+) basis from Dubai. Add to this family members visiting them in the US and their kids flying to India for summer holidays.

    Lufthansa has identified this segment as well and their Frankfurt -India flights are always full in economy class

  22. @ Lucky – IAH is about to start a $1.5 billion revamp of some of its terminals, including tearing down and rebuilding current international Terminal D. Looks very nice on rendering although the project won’t be fully done until 2020-2021.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/morning_call/2014/04/iah-design-plans-unveiled-terminal-d-to-be.html?page=all
    http://www.aviationpros.com/news/11894653/airport-chief-sees-houston-growing-as-international-gateway
    http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/morning_call/2015/03/houston-airports-prepare-to-launch-more.html

  23. @Lucky – surprised you mention this without any comment about the simultaneously announced DXB-MCO nonstop flights?

  24. I live in Seattle so this is great news.

    Do you think that this will mean that Emirates will have some promos for the SEA-DXB?

  25. @ Alan — In theory it’s possible, though I wouldn’t count on it. I would guess this route is more motivated by cargo and corporate travel than leisure travelers or those that are price sensitive. We’ll see!

  26. @ Ken — Given that they can be redeemed on Etihad and Qatar, don’t think we can complain too much. 😀

  27. Seattle to Dubai extra flights – I guess this is also to capture Vancouver and western Canada traffic. Possibly a lot of Indians from Vancouver flying via Settle to various Indian destinations via Dubai.

  28. I’d say EK strategy is to get as many slots into the U.S. as quickly as possible before the open skies agreement, that is currently being challenged by U.S. carriers, changes. Quick Quick

  29. I am really happy to learn about this new flight. I regularly travel to India, and this reduces the layover in Dubai from 8-9 hours to 2-3 hours only. So going forward, unless other competing airlines (with 2 stops instead of 1 ) are a whole lot cheaper, I will fly Emirates only ! I do not care much for the A380, because I fly economy only (no showers..lol).

  30. Don’t forget the ME3’s access into Canada remains restricted so there’s a good subcontinent market in Western Canada that has to access Emirates via LAX/SEA so not surprised to see capacity increased at Seattle.

    That A380 into Toronto is so busy, I’ve flown that route twice and both times they were overbooked, giving away free tickets to anyone who gave up their seat.

  31. We have enough 777s, its bad enough to loose BAWs 747 for 777s. I wish we could get a 1x daily A380!

  32. Seattle is increasing in tourism and international travelers, more fight selections and connections.

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