Aer Lingus announced on Thursday a new non-stop service from Dublin to Dubai. Commencing March 2006, the service will operate three times a week and is expected to carry 70,000 passengers in the first year. This is the first time Aer Lingus has offered a long-haul destination outside of the USA and is the first step in the expansion of its new long-haul network.
|Dubai or Dubayy (in Arabic) is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the Arabian Peninsula. The second largest of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is located on the southern shore of the Arabian Gulf. Dubai city is a bustling metropolis, while outside the city itself the Emirate is sparsely inhabited and characterized by desert vegetation. Current population approx. 1.67 million, set to increase to 3.5 million by 2010. 80% comprises of Expatriates - Arab, Asians, European, and others. Dubai has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular. Falling mainly in winter, it amounts to some five days a year. Temperatures range from a low of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit to a high 118 degrees. The mean daily maximum is 75 degrees Fahrenheit in January rising to 105 degrees Fahrenheit in July.|
Making the announcement, Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion said "This is a very positive step for the airline and demonstrates our commitment to the development of a low fares, long-haul strategy, embracing new routes with significant growth potential. Our twin track strategy encompasses both short-haul and long-haul routes, which provides us with a competitive edge, a unique offering and furthermore, enhanced choice for our customers.
Dubai is recognised as the business centre of the Middle East. In addition it has seen a huge growth in tourism from the Irish market over the last 10 years. Dubai will also provide a unique growth opportunity for Irish tourism from new and existing markets. These factors give us confidence that this route will be a major success."
In addition to being an attractive location in its own right, Dubai is the leading hub in the Middle East for destinations such as Bangkok, Hong Kong and Sydney.
Dubai will be the fifth route in the Aer Lingus long-haul network along with New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. In all, Aer Lingus has announced sixteen new routes in 2005. The eight-hour non-stop flight of 3682 miles to Dubai International Airport will be serviced by three Airbus A330 aircraft.
Lead in fares will start from 199 one-way including taxes and will be on sale at www.aerlingus.com from 3rd November 2005.
Mannion said new aircraft would not be needed on the service and Aer Lingus could "juggle" its existing fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft. The airline is hopeful the plan will not be blocked by the two main unions at Aer Lingus, Impact and SIPTU.
Earlier this year, the company had to abandon a route from Dublin to Orlando in Florida because it could not reach agreement with unions over crew levels.
The journey time on the planned Dubai route is less than nine and a half hours and the same work practices that apply on most US routes should apply to the Dubai service. Michael Halpenny, a senior SIPTU official, has been reported as saying that he welcomed route expansion, but staff were anxious to make sure such expansion happened under existing agreements.
The airline still does not have a "fly anywhere" agreement in place with unions and talks continue at the Labour Relations Commission.
Gulf Air recently announced a new route between Dublin and Bahrain.
Mannion who is a former executive of Emirates, the Gulf airline, said that a privatisation of Aer Lingus within the next year is necessary to fund expansion of its network. He said the airline is studying new destinations in the US, among them San Francisco and Philadelphia. But this is dependent on changes being made to a bi-lateral agreement between Ireland and the US.