Emirates boosts its London operation with new daily Stansted link in 2018, but slot limitations hit scheduling

21 December, 2017

United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier Emirates Airline is to further expand its London operations with the addition of a new daily flight into Stansted Airport from next summer. The service will be its tenth daily flight into the UK capital (18th into the UK) and will complement its existing London schedule at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, being served by up to nine A380 rotations per day. But with a planned seven hours on the ground at the London airport to maximise flight connections, it is far from ideal utilisation of the aircraft.

The new Dubai International - London Stansted flight will commence from 08-Jun-2018 and will be the only link into the Essex airport from the Middle East. Pakistan International Airlines was the last to serve the London Stansted - Dubai sector as a technical stop on its Airbus A310 flights to Islamabad and Lahore in the second quarter of 2009, albeit operating just 26 flights in the three month period.

The daily Emirates link will be flown using a three class Boeing 777-300ER ( 6 seats in First Class, 42 in Business Class and 306 in Economy Class) with Emirates predicting a strong premium demand especially from the strong pharmaceutical hubs of Cambridge and Peterborough as well as the many new start-ups and existing SMEs, which form a growing section of the Cambridge business community.

More than 25 of the world's largest corporations have established operations in the wider Cambridge and Peterborough area, with Airbus, Astra Zeneca and GSK amongst the multi-national companies based there. Such businesses have helped establish the London Stansted Cambridge Corridor as one of the top five global knowledge regions, alongside world-leading San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Boston.

Initial flight schedules show the service will operate as a daytime flight on the inbound leg, departing Dubai at 09:30 and arriving at London Stansted at 14:10. The return leg will operate overnight from London, departing at 21:10 from Stansted and arriving back in Dubai at 07:05 the following morning. This schedule will maximise connections behind and beyond Dubai, but is far from ideal in terms of utilisation and efficiency with the aircraft sat on the ground for seven hours in London. It is understood that Emirates currently only has one slot in and one slot out of Stansted otherwise it could consider an onward connection.

The announcement of the new London Stansted operation partly explains Emirates' decision to cancel its third daily rotation between Dubai and Birmingham earlier this year. Though, it has also boosted capacity on its two other daily rotations into Birmingham this winter by using A380s on both flights, to partly meet the capacity void

Introducing flights to London Stansted is a "strategic decision" by Emirates to serve the thriving business community in London's north east and the wider 7.5 million population that fall within its catchment area. Hong Kong, Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore and Mumbai are the most popular business destinations from the East of England, according to the carrier, which Emirates already serves daily through its Dubai hub. The link will also offer more convenient links for leisure travellers to destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Bali and the Indian Ocean islands.

Emirates currently operates six daily flights into Heathrow and three daily flights into Gatwick. In fact for a couple of days this month and again early next month it is operating a seventh daily rotation into London's primary air gateway. The UK and London are key markets for the Emirates model supporting strong point to point flows into the UAE and onward transfers across the airline's wider network. Outside of London the Emirates network in the UK also includes Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.

Through new destinations, most recently Newcastle over ten years ago, additional frequencies and the deployment of larger aircraft, most notably the Airbus A380 on multiple daily frequencies, the carrier has almost doubled UK capacity (up +95.6%) between 2007 and 2017, an average annual rise of 7.0%. In fact the growth of +2.7% in 2017 is actually the second lowest annual rate during that period.

CHART - After a significant double digit year over year capacity rise in 2016, Emirates Airline's Dubai - UK capacity growth has now slipped to its lowest rate since 2010Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG