Gulf carriers advance on Scandinavia

13 Mar 2014 by Alex McWhirter

Emirates is following in the footsteps of Qatar Airways and has announced it will start serving all three Scandinavian capitals from September 2.

The Dubai-based carrier already flies from Dubai to Copenhagen and Stockholm. From September, the route map will include Oslo.

Emirates’ daily flight will be operated by a three-class B777-300ER configured with eight first, 42 business and 310 economy class seats.

In time-honoured fashion, inbound flight EK159 will depart Dubai early at 0700 to land at Oslo Gardermoen at 1210. Return flight EK160 will leave Oslo at 1355 and arrive back into Dubai at 2250.

Emirates president Tim Clark said: “Norway’s resilient economy is built on strong foundations including its dynamic oil, gas, fishing, telecoms and maritime sectors.

“We believe Emirates’ Oslo service will further stimulate growth including trade, tourism and investment flows into the country by providing critical air links with emerging markets in the Middle East, Far East, West Asia and Africa.”

The news is significant for Scandinavian travellers, especially those residing in Norway and Sweden, because they do not have the wide range of long-haul services that travellers enjoy in the UK, Holland, France, Germany and so on.

Yet Scandinavia itself has become more diverse in recent times. This has fuelled more demand for travel to places in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

As for the competition, Qatar Airways currently serves Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm using B787 Dreamliners. Like Emirates, it provides a range of onward connections via Doha. But Etihad, the third major Gulf carrier does not serve Scandinavia directly.

Thai Airways is the sole Far Eastern carrier to serve Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. It is popular with Scandinavians thanks to innovative fares, its use of newish B777-300ERs and good connections throughout south-east Asia and on to Australia.

But Emirates’ arrival will put pressure on budget carrier Norwegian. As we reported last year, its fares to Bangkok (the only Asian city it serves) can be uncompetitive with those of the Gulf carriers (see news, July 26).

Emirates’ arrival in Oslo is, ultimately, good news.

Alex McWhirter

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