Emirates races to reach 100% pre-pandemic Aussie travel capacity


Beating out its Aussie counterparts, Emirates has announced that it plans to reach 100 per cent Australian travel capacity by midway through the year.

The UAE-based airline will be adding a third daily service from Melbourne to Dubai via Singapore on March 26, before adding a daily direct flight from Sydney to Dubai on May 1.

“Adding a third daily service to Sydney and Melbourne will offer over 500,000 additional seats to and from Australia in a year,” said Barry Brown, Emirates Divisional Vice President for Australasia.

“To have the two cities operating back at pre-pandemic frequencies is a phenomenal milestone in our restoration of Australia [sic] capacity and testament to our long-standing commitment to flying Down Under.”

Emirates had also previously announced doubling its daily flights to Brisbane from June 1, and restarting its Christchurch, New Zealand via Sydney route.

By the middle of the year, the airline will be conducting 63 weekly services to Australia, carrying 55,000 passengers.

Emirates’ moves to restore its Aussie travel capacity to pre-pandemic levels comes as Sydney Airport has called on airlines to boost their capacities to what they were in 2019.

The airport’s chief executive, Geoff Culbert, has said that pre-pandemic capacity needs to be achieved for the travel industry to recover completely, pointing out that despite a Christmas rush, domestic traffic is still 20 per cent lower than it was prior to the pandemic.


“Our domestic terminals were bustling over the Christmas period as Australians travelled to see friends and family and explore this great country. The recovery is by no means over though, with 411,000 fewer domestic passengers in December 2022 than in December 2019,” he said.

“Australia needs to unlock more capacity, and quickly, if we want to see a sustained recovery for our tourism, education, and export industries.”

Whilst Aussie airlines had previously ramped up travel capacity, they were met by record-breaking delay numbers.

This led to reducing capacity once more, which alongside increased demand, sent airfares and profits skyrocketing. Now, airlines are hesitant to increase capacities again.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said that whilst “high jet fuel costs and operational challenges,” contribute to lower capacities and higher airfares, it would be keeping a keen eye on prices.

Qantas has said that it hopes to reach 104 per cent capacity by the end of the year, and 93 per cent by March 2023, with the addition of 57 new return services weekly.

The Flying Kangaroo’s budget airline Jetstar announced it would also be upping capacity, with direct services from Auckland to Brisbane from March, whilst rival Virgin has been bolstering its services to and from Japan.


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