WOW: Emirates Is Drastically Cutting Service To The US Due To Decreased Demand

I guess this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but the Associated Press is reporting that Emirates is greatly cutting back their frequencies to the US starting next month due to decreased travel demand as of next month. The Associated Press is reporting that:

  • Dubai to Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle, will be reduced from twice daily to once daily
  • Dubai to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will be reduced from daily to 5x weekly

Emirates-A380-First-Class-01

As of now it doesn’t look like the actual route cuts have been updated in the schedule, but I imagine it will happen shortly.

This represents a net decrease of roughly 25 weekly flights between the UAE and US. However, do keep in mind that Emirates was already planning on decreasing frequencies on some routes prior to this announcement. For example, for the summer season they were already only going to operate once daily flights between Dubai and Los Angeles.

Perhaps the most telling thing is that they’re cutting daily service in some markets down to 5x weekly. Emirates is an airline that likes serving almost all destinations on a daily basis, so that shows how poorly they must be doing in some markets.

Emirates claims that this is coming as a response to both increased immigration measures in the US, and also the electronics ban that’s in place for US-bound flights, which is making many people avoid the Gulf carriers. Here’s what the airline said about the service reductions:

Emirates said on Wednesday that the reductions will affect five of its 12 U.S. destinations, starting next month. It called the move “a commercial decision in response to weakened travel demand” in the three months since President Donald Trump took office.

It’s interesting how Emirates is directly calling out President Trump here — they’re not leaving anything to the imagination in terms of how they feel.

One could also argue that these cuts were coming anyway, and that the current situation is just an excuse. The Gulf carriers have been under a lot of financial pressure from their governments, so they’ve been doing less capacity-dumping. I’m not sure how many of these cuts can be attributed exclusively to Trump’s policies in the past few months.

I’m not surprised to see this response. I’m sure the US carriers are rejoicing. It’ll be interesting to see if other Gulf carriers reduce frequencies similarly (though in fairness, Etihad and Qatar don’t operate as many routes to the US).

What do you make of Emirates’ US service reductions?

(Tip of the hat to @JakeSherman)

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. I’m torn about them calling out Trump, even though it’s 100% accurate. Does this work to bring about public sympathy and pressure on the administration to stop all the stupid stuff it is doing so that competition remains in the market and prices stay low? On the other hand, I think this was exactly the intent of Trump when he imposed the travel bans and the electronics ban (the second because the first didn’t stick and he couldn’t damage the carriers enough with it), so he’s getting exactly what he wants.

  2. Emirates finally has a good excuse (Trump) to cut flights. Govt pressure to perform better must be extreme and I doubt they’d have cut so much without a convenient excuse; they don’t want to give the US big 3 any further reason to question govt subsidies.

  3. It’s interesting in that they haven’t announced big cuts in their fares; especially in the premium cabins. At current rates, I won’t use them because of the electronics ban. Going nonstop to the Middle East and beyond isn’t worth the additional hassle; so I now just connect in FRA, AMS, or CDG. If they were to significantly reduce their premium cabin rates, I would work much harder to find an option to use them. I can always use a local company laptop once I get to DXB or DOH; I just prefer to use my own.

  4. @gregg: how do you get to Ahmedabad, Karachi, Trivandrum, Colombo, Kochi, Calicut, Maldives through ams/cdg/fra? Those are some of the largest passenger flows using dxb/doh/AUH, and you can’t reach them through the European hubs you mention.

  5. @Jason: Currently I don’t have a need to go to any of the places you mentioned. Most of my travel is to the Middle East and SE Asia. If I did, I would most likely go through BOM, DEL, or SIN, depending upon the destination.

  6. I’m seeing the change in schedule already. Been looking for flights to South Africa leaving LAX and there was a 4:40pm option and 10:40pm option. I now only see the 4:40pm on A380. Anyone else see this?

  7. Calling out Trump is to save their ego, as stated they were going to decrease the number of flights beforehand. They have too many flights especially when you think of how many passengers the A380 holds.

  8. The US Big 3 are exacting their revenge upon the ME Big 3.

    Its interesting to watch what happens when US subsidized oligopolies battle with Oil State subsidized oligopolies. (Hint: They fight each other through the governments they ‘influence’).

    This electronics ban was a direct shot.

  9. The real losers in this are going to be travellers in both directions… less capacity will most likely lead to higher average prices… 🙁

  10. @Gregg 0- well, the vast majority of people on those flights are going to those secondary cities I mentioned. This limits their choice and reduces their options, which is sad.

  11. “It’s interesting how Emirates is directly calling out President Trump here — they’re not leaving anything to the imagination in terms of how they feel.”

    Emirates isn’t directly calling out Trump. The AP article is. The Emirates comments have quotes around them.

  12. @Traveler; its like a tariff. The biggest loser is the American consumer.

    This isn’t the first time countries have used arcane regulations to ‘protect’ a domestic business at the expense of their consumers. Unfortunately, especially after the ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court ruling, the companies in this country exert a lot more political influence than the US consumer does.

    All these blog articles trying to figure out how the electronics ban would make the flights safer were misunderstanding the true reason for the ban.

  13. @Mark F. – absolutely agree with you.

    Maybe we see some of this capacity deployed to Europe to further increase competition, and for sure to Asia-Pacific by Emirates as they mentioned that China is developing well for them.

  14. US carriers only win if this is an excuse. But if travel has fallen, then the US carriers arent gaining anything. Less supply means higher prices only if demand stays the same.

    Notice theyre cutting the most at Orlando and Ft Lauderdale – leisure destinations. People aren’t traveling from Orlando to the ME or India, it’s the reverse. People are not planning their holidays in the US.

  15. Guess they should also cancel the 777-X orders. QR and EY should do the same too…..then it will be “so much for making America great again”…..

  16. I flew Emirates a couple weeks before the ban and there were a number of empty seats on all flights
    (JFK -DXB, DXB-MXP, and MXP-JFK), which was NOT the case when I flew the same route last year.

    So whilst certainly a contributing factor, the electronic ban couldn’t be the major cause. I bet the ban will have a bigger effect on premium passengers than in Y, and that could hurt the bottom line more.
    Also, wasn’t the electronic ban supposed to be temporary?

  17. I’m starting to feel like the electronic ban is it a safety measure but in part a way to protect American carriers, I know it sounds obvious but I feel like it wasn’t even The administration’s idea but the airlines CEO’s idea to come up with a way to discourage people from flying Gulf airlines and BAM! “let’s ban them from allowing their passengers to use electronics on board”.

  18. I know it sucks for those of us who like onboard showers, but it was a necessary move to discourage direct subsidies which undermine competitiveness of unsubsidized U.S. companies. I know various bloggers like to pretend U.S. carriers have been subsidized because AFTER they go bankrupt, the U.S. government has been known to bail out pension plans for the sake of trying to help pensioners avoid financial ruin, but that is not a subsidy. Anyone who calls that a subsidy is promoting an agenda. Foreign government subsidies on the scale the gulf carriers are receiving are hostile acts against our country that required a response before they got out of control. Trump for all of his faults, does understand the nuances of trade and international economics better than any President I have ever seen in my lifetime. You can quarrel with whether electronics bans and vetting are the best way to achieve these goals, but the intent is spot on.

  19. Rob – not paying taxes is the same as government subsidies, check out how little Boeing pay.
    If I were the gulf carriers, I’d be switching my business to Airbus. Money talks…

  20. @Rob

    I just looked up “subsidy” on Merriam Webster online, and this is the definition: “a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public”

    Now, to say US carriers aren’t subsidized is patently untrue. It doesn’t matter the reason (bankruptcy protection, pension protection, or any other reason). Calling US carriers subsidized is an agenda-free statement and stands on its own as true. No pretending at all.

  21. @Von – 94 A380s in service by Emirates is hardly inconsequential…at 2017 list prices ($436.9M USD) is $41B USD. Granted they didn’t pay that much per plane but still, saying they should shift business to Airbus is a strange thing to say here. And to say that Emirates, a launch partner of the new version 777 planes, would abandon a clear workhorse in their fleet just to spite the US Govt is also a strange thing to suggest.

  22. Emirates has had very low pax load into and out of FLL since they began service. Surprised they are even planning to fly five days a week.

  23. Quick data point/anecdote: Flew Emirates DXB-IAD in October, first was 5/14 full, business was ~20% full by my eyeballing it. No idea what downstairs looked like. I wonder what their loads were like pre-ban, but I suspect they may not have been/be nearly what’s needed to break even on some of their US routes.

    I suspect Etihad is doing a better job at right-sizing their metal (composites?) to match the route, as the AUH-IAD 787 flights look pretty full…

  24. Could be that Emirates starts to loudly think about “right-sizing” their 77X orders given lighter loads, and revisit their decision not to order the A350… So the mix becomes suddenly A380/A350…

  25. @traveler – could very well be what they do, but it really seems like they’ve overshot the number of A380s they can realistically fill. But they’re stuck with those now, good luck finding another airline to lease them…Emirates is in a bad way and the only thing that will help is rising oil prices.

  26. Boeing should have a detailed discussion with EK about their long term plans. Want to cancel, sooner the better.

  27. @Robert – actually quite a number of A380s of Emirates are leased, so at the end of the planned 12-year lifecycle they will become someone else’s problem (first retirements planned for 2020), as does Singapore Airlines now this autumn (getting new A380 for the oldest one). Rising oil prices will not help as Dubai does not truly benefit from that (unlike Abu Dhabi) but rather increase their cost base. So the key to any airline’s success is the right balance between demand and willingness to pay of travelers vs. capacity and cost of operations.

  28. @TravelinWilly: Yes, that is one of the definitions of subsidy, but not the relevant one. Scroll down the page on Merriam Webster and you will see the definition that is relevant. “Money that is paid usually by a government to keep the price of a product or service low or to help a business or organization to continue to function.” That’s the problem, public perception is based on limited understanding of the economic issue, so everyone is blindly defending the Gulf carriers because they like the low prices for the value they receive. I understand that, but it is temporary. A government subsidized entity will always ultimately bankrupt a privately funded entity and then it will have monopoly power to raise prices to whatever it wants. So yes, you are paying less now and getting more from these subsidized carriers, but left unchecked, it will ultimately become multiples more expensive when viable competition is snuffed out by government subsidies. Not to mention that we will have allowed a foreign government to essentially steal the entirety of our aviation industry in the end game.

  29. The Middle East is a really weird place to have an airline hub for transit to the US, as for the great majority of passengers travelling to/from the US having to transit through the middle-east makes the journey much longer than from any other hub. Hence the massive subsidies paid by their governments to prop up the airlines, and the crazy low discounts that apply for certain US fares, that passengers flying everywhere else in the world don’t see.

  30. No surprise. US has elected to throw up barriers. Capital and people are fluid, they just go elsewhere.

  31. @ron
    Yeah, but that’s a little bit like saying HBO throws up barriers charging $20 a month so instead of watching Game of Thrones people will just go elsewhere and watch PBS free documentaries. The action is in the U.S. and the traffic is coming no matter what…the Gulf carriers are now just a much less attractive option, and they will lose market share to other carriers.

  32. @Rob

    I’m just stating the facts. The consequences follow the choices.

    On the view ‘the action is in the US’ I beg to differ. That was definitely the case in the past but no more. The action is in Asia now. We are seeing more and more flights going from and to Asia. If at the same time flights to and from US are being reduced, you are now getting the short end of the stick.

  33. Interesting.

    This last year we flew to CPT from LAX/SFO. On the return flight we encountered the electronics ban and very poor service/flights on Qatar. TSA trashing our bags once again in LAX was the final straw.

    This year we fly via HKG on CX and Eva. Depart from YVR so no TSA and no problems with US immigration. Winner.

    So not surprising others are doing somewhat the same thing. Bye Bye EK. Your new award travel rates immediately removed you from the equation and the latest problems guarantees never again.

  34. @Rob

    “@TravelinWilly: Yes, that is one of the definitions of subsidy…”

    So really we’re down to semantics, and it sounds like you’re saying that some subsidies are better than others. Btw, I’m by no means trolling you when I say that, and I do in fact believe that it’s a fair statement to make. Some may agree with you and others may not, but my issue had more to do with the blanket statement that US carriers are not subsidized and the “agenda” comment. They *are* subsidized, just not in the same way as the ME3.

  35. Doesn’t really effect me since I fly non-revenue and AA and Emirates are still not cooperating with each other. Grrrr!!!

  36. Emirates in cahoots with the Greek government have only recently introduced a Dubai-Athens-Newark service. I wonder how that is affected by the Emirates’ decision?

  37. I won’t be surprised to see if Emirates increases their direct routes to Canada (if they actually have any) and start flying direct to Mexico City. I bet that would recoup some business travelers wanting to fly to the US but don’t want to be affected by the ban.
    Indeed, I am planning to fly to the US this year on Emirates, but to Rio then to the US.

  38. @ Emirates4Ever — Unfortunately at the moment UAE can’t get any more slots from Canada, and I don’t think a Mexico City nonstop flight would be possible, due to the altitude of Mexico City’s airport.

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