Emirates set to add Venice and possibly Newcastle, to European network

20 Dec 2006 by business traveller

Emirates' European expansion plans have been blunted by the late delivery of the A380 super jumbo. But it will add Venice to its network next July and is rumoured to be starting a Newcastle service from September.

By rights Emirates ought to have been adding more cities than these two. After all, the idea was that the A380s would have taken over its most popular services. In turn that would have allowed the smaller B777s and Airbus A330s to develop other routes.

"Aircraft availability is our stumbling block [when it comes to European expansion]," Keith Longstaff, the carrier's senior VP for commercial operations in Europe, admitted to Business Traveller. "Emirates isn't expected to receive its first A380 until August 2008. Yet originally we'd planned to have 18 of these planes in service by then."

The five times a week service from Venice to Dubai will get under way on July 1, increasing to daily from September 1. Flights will be operated by A330-200s fitted with 27 business and 251 economy class seats.

Venice currently has no long-haul air service. Travellers wishing to reach the outside world must take connecting flights to Milan Malpensa, Rome or other European hubs like Frankfurt, Paris and London.

Emirates will capitalise on these shortcomings. Its flights out of Venice will connect in Dubai for beyond destinations. Says HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Maktoum, the carrier's chairman and chief executive, "Venice is a popular tourist destination and an important gateway in Northern Italy for commerce. Our new service will contribute to Italy's many flourishing small to medium-sized businesses by providing increased access from Venice to other major cities around the globe via Dubai."

Rumours also abound that Emirates will bring long-haul air service to the UK northeast late next summer. Industry insiders suggest the carrier will operate a daily two-class A330-200 service from Newcastle to Dubai starting on September 1.

As in the case of Venice, the service would also provide beyond connections. It would also be the first ever long-haul eastbound flight from Newcastle whose catchment area extends to the Scottish borders in the north and as far south as York.

At the time of writing, spokespeople for both Newcastle airport and Emirates would neither confirm nor deny these rumours.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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