Dubai-based Emirates airline is expected to carry about 55 million passengers this year, an increase from 51 million passengers last year, the airline’s Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum (photo) said.
The airline’s load factor would rise slightly to 80-81% from 79% the last calendar year, he told reporters at the Arabian Travel Market 2016 (ATM) in Dubai.
Emirates has put up a cutting-edge stand named ‘Infinite Possibilities’ at the ATM. The stand was visited by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council.
Sheikh Ahmed welcomed the royal visitors and gave a personal tour of the three-storey Emirates stand. He also gave a demonstration of Emirates’ First Class Private Suite and the airline’s enhanced Boeing 777 Business Class seat which will be introduced on board from November 2016.
Speaking to reporters, Sheikh Ahmed said European plane maker Airbus should do a better job selling its A380 superjumbo, according to Emirates, the aircraft’s biggest buyer and most vocal supporter within the airline industry.
Sheikh Ahmed's comments follow a Reuters report that revealed Airbus plans to reduce the production rate for the world’s largest passenger jet.
Airbus, facing a shortage of sales, is increasingly focused on a potential new version of its smaller A350 and has shelved a plan to put new engines on the A380.
Emirates has ordered 142 of the A380s, of which 75 are in operation, and has used the aircraft to ease runway constraints at its Dubai hub.
“It's their (Airbus’s) decision ... I think they will continue producing this aircraft,” Sheikh Ahmed told reporters at a travel conference in Dubai.
“They have really to push their sales team to do much better, especially now the aircraft has been in the market for the last eight years. We should be making it easier for them to sell it to the others.”
Abu Dhabi-owned rival Etihad has bought stakes in several other airlines including India's Jet Airways, Air Berlin and Alitalia, but Sheikh Ahmed said Emirates had no plans to do anything similar.
“No, we would always want to work solely. You've got to understand that with the number of aircraft we receive per year, it would be very difficult for me to manage the airline business ... also solving someone else's problem because we bought equity,” he explained.
A plane operated by Flydubai, Emirates’ sister low-cost carrier of which Sheikh Ahmed is also Chairman, crashed in Russia last month. Initial investigations indicated pilot error was a likely cause.
“When it comes to safety, there are no cutting costs. We have a risk management fatigue department where they look all the time at issues, things we hear about. We try to mitigate any risk that can happen,” added Sheikh Ahmed.