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Emirates will soon be competing with Qatar and Etihad for business flyers traveling between the major U.S. hub and Middle Eastern destinations. On-board experience and price will be what sets the carriers apart.
It will be a little more than four months before Emirates Airline begins flying its huge Airbus A380 to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, but the Middle East carrier is already touting the luxury amenities it can offer local passengers.
With two on-board shower spas, a premium-class lounge and in-flight entertainment with 1,600 video channels in economy class, the double-decker aircraft makes 14- to 16-hour flights comfortable, said Hubert Frach, Emirates divisional senior vice president.
“There is a good fit between Dallas and Dubai,” Frach said. “I believe big cities need big airports and big aircraft and all this is happening with the A380.”
Emirates launched its DFW-Dubai route in February 2012 with a Boeing 777 that has 266 seats. The A380 will almost double capacity on the Emirates route, with 14 first-class seats, 76 business class seats and 399 economy seats.
DFW Airport is spending $2.8 million to add a jetbridge to Terminal D to accommodate the A380. Qantas Airways will also launch A380 service at DFW, on its route to Sydney, starting Sept. 29.
Frach said it makes sense for Emirates to upgrade to the A380 on Oct. 1 as its planes on the DFW-Dubai route have been about 90 percent full, with few empty seats. About 60 percent of its passengers are connecting through Dubai to other destinations, and Frach said there has been strong business travel and leisure demand from DFW to cities in the Indian sub-continent.
The Middle Eastern carrier, based in Dubai, faces new competition this year as Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways plan to launch service from DFW to Doha and Abu Dhabi respectively. But Frach said Emirates believes the premium quality of its aircraft will lead North Texas travelers to choose his airline over the other Gulf carriers.
One of his favorite amenities on the A380 is the on-board lounge on the upper deck of the aircraft.
“It is the hot spot on board,” Frach said, adding that the bar is open once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude and doesn’t shut down until the plane begins its descent. “Everyone mingles there and networks there.”
(c)2014 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by MCT Information Services.