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Emirates puts pinch on BA with 10th daily London trip

Friday, April 1, 2016 - 16:12

[LONDON] Emirates, the world's biggest international airline, will add a 10th daily flight to London in October, bolstering its challenge to British Airways in the European carrier's own backyard.

Dubai-based Emirates will operate the service to the UK capital's secondary Gatwick hub, giving it four daily flights there together with six at London Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, it said in a statement Thursday.

London is already the most popular city for Emirates, with the extra service lifting capacity to 4,600 seats each way per day and taking total weekly flights to 70. That compares with the 76 that British Airways offers from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports to New York, its top long-haul destination.

Emirates's high-frequency operation from London, which it first began serving in 1987, will siphon even more passengers bound for Asia, the Middle East and Africa through its Dubai hub, where coordinated waves of departures maximize potential connections while minimizing transfer times.

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Eight of the London flights offered by Emirates use Airbus Group SE A380s drawn from the world's largest roster of superjumbos, with a single Heathrow service operated by the Boeing Co 777-300ERs that form the mainstay of the Gulf carrier's fleet.

The fourth Gatwick flight, which commences Oct 1, will also use a 777 after an A380 was deployed on the last new service there from Jan 1. The UK-bound leg will leave Dubai at 9:50 am, arriving at 2:30 pm in London, while the return trip departs Britain at 4:50 pm and lands at 2:40 am.

British Airways lost a key ally in the Asia-Pacific market following the termination of a 17-year partnership with Qantas Airways Ltd in 2012 after the Australian carrier struck a similar deal with Emirates.

BA responded by bringing Qatar Airways into the Oneworld alliance, allowing it to offer more Asian destinations via code- share arrangements. In the trans-Atlantic market its New York exposure is bolstered by flights from London to Newark and the operation of a joint timetable with American Airlines.

Emirates has also taken advantage of BA's decision to focus long-haul operations on London, offering three direct flights a day to Dubai from Manchester and Birmingham, two from Glasgow and one from Newcastle, for a current weekly UK total of 126.

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