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Emirates is now at 70% capacity utilisation and setting itself up for a strong summer. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Emirates airline will reach full recovery in terms of capacity and network by 2023, according to Adnan Kazim, its Chief Commercial Officer.

Emirates is operating at 70 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity, which will grow to 80 per cent in the summer and from there to 85 per cent in the winter, said Kazim, who was speaking at the Arabian Travel Market pre-conference. Kazim said Emirates will operate its full pre-pandemic network by 2023. The airline is currently flying to 130 destinations.

Emirates is adding 23 flights within the GCC and Middle East.

Reporting: John Benny | Editing: Sonia Shah

Kazim said that Emirates is open to engaging with new airlines in India and added that the restructuring of Air India would help reshape the industry. Emirates is already seeing 95 per cent seat factors on its India flights, said Kazim. "The demand is exceeding the current capacity offered"

Emirates’ commercial head highlighted that there’s scope for more flights between UAE and India given the current demand level. “The traveling pattern of India today is quite limited compared to the demand that India can offer,” said Kazim.

Dubai's flagship carrier will continue operating flights to Russia, with Kazim saying the route is important for the movement of goods and equipment. "Students and diplomats need that link between Dubai and Russia.”

Tourist numbers

It is 'business as usual' for Dubai when it comes to Russian tourists, according to Dubai Tourism CEO Issam Kazim.

Dubai had 2 million visitors in the first two months of 2022, said Kazim, adding that overall tourist numbers this year will be higher than 2021 despite the Russia-Ukraine conflict. "We are seeing huge increases in markets such as Netherlands and France," said Kazim, during the Arabian Travel Market pre-conference on Tuesday.

Russian tourists represent one of the largest markets for Dubai. "While this year is in progress, I will not be able to tell precisely (from) which markets the lion's share (will be) coming from in terms of growth percentage," said Kazim.

The Dubai Tourism chief said that with the exception of China, which is currently pursuing a zero COVID policy, some of the emirate’s biggest source markets have been seeing a recovery.

“We have always had a diversified market approach from day one and with that we have been able to work very closely with our partners from across the industry and airlines are the key factor,” said Kazim. “We're still in some cases dealing with the pandemic, which is also linked quite strongly with (flight) capacity - we are assessing every market by the month”

Delivery plans

Kazim said that the delivery of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777x aircraft are not part of the airline’s 2023 plans to hit full capacity. As per some media reports, Emirates has demanded that Airbus address the A350 fuselage paint degradation issue before any aircraft are delivered to it. Meanwhile, deliveries of Boeing’s 777x aircraft could be delayed until 2025, Reuters reported earlier.

“As far as the two manufacturers are concerned, we are going to engage with them to get a solution and ramping the required number (of aircraft) as and when they are ready for it,” said Kazim.

Cruise returns

Dubai’s cruise industry – one of the major pillars of the emirate’s tourism sector – was hit hard by the pandemic. Stakeholders are now working towards getting cruise liners back to the Arabian Gulf destination.

“This business was booming pre-pandemic with Dubai seeing more than 14 cruise liners during the winters – now our Europe network is back to normal and we are quite optimistic that the (cruise industry) will come back to pre-pandemic level or more,” said Kazim.