Topic of the Week: What Does Orlando Say About Emirates’ Strategy in the US?

Airlines add new routes all the time and I don’t blink an eye, but every so often something surprising happens. Emirates has announced daily service from Dubai to Orlando in September. This is on top of the new second daily service that was announced to Seattle. (Coincidence that it’s 2 daily 777s instead of 1 daily A380 to the city where the 777 was built? No way.)

So what do you think about this move? Does Orlando make sense? Why would the airline start it during the single weakest month for tourism there? Let’s hear your thoughts.

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28 Comments on "Topic of the Week: What Does Orlando Say About Emirates’ Strategy in the US?"

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Joe
Guest

The Seattle flight is to thank Boeing for all the subsidies they get from local, state, and federal sources here in the us (will CHS be next?)

The Orlando flight is to do research about how to copy Disney world in Dubai fashion so they can hide more subsides they receive from the Dubai government.

Hahah

Matt B.
Guest

I can’t speak much towards the timeline though I suppose much of it is aircraft availability and reshuffling. It is an interesting development that EK has been slowly adding more leisure destinations that were holes in the network like Bali and now Orlando. I think it makes sense as many large Arab families would certainly have the Disney-pull (despite some theme parks in the region, Disneyworld is something bigger) but I suppose there can be feed from JetBlue as well. My next guess for EK in USA is Denver.

Don't fret Brett
Guest

Airlines may choose a low season start to train crews to the specifics of a destination, test catering quality and consistency before issues reach the premium cabin pax and establish standards of ground service before swamping employees and contractors with full flight loads.

The fact that DL, UA, LH, BA and Virgin will loose valuable business TATL and Asia pax may just make Mr.Clark giggle. Central Florida has numerous technology companies and colleges with a predominant Asian and North African population. They visit their families regularly and would appreciate an airport with more relaxed customs/immigration.

***
Guest

Orlando is a vacation destination and Dubai has a lot of connecting flights… they are looking for
tourist traffic, not sure people would fly from Europe to Dubai and then to Orlando but from other parts of the mideast and Asia they might. Sept. is weak for tourism at least for Americans to go there, Emirates looking for a different demographic would be my guess.

James Burke
Guest

September is a higher season for conferences though – perhaps it will be a bit business heavier to start…

Scott
Member

The 2nd daily SEA is likely a giant finger to Canada/Vancouver as EK havent been able to get more slots into Canada (and they would love to serve YVR and YYC)

as for 772 v 380 service, SEA has no 380 compatible updown gatea

Sean S.
Guest
Its hard to know considering the number of people who take package vacations to the Orlando area. Certainly there seems to be a large number of foreign tourists visiting the Orlando area, but again, it’ll be interesting to see how sustainable tapping the nouveau rich will be, considering how quickly it can evaporate. Just look at the number of European resorts that put all their chips into the Russian oligarch money, and are getting burned now due to ruble collapse and sanctions. Will we see a similar collapse in Gulf incomes in the event of geopolitical issues? It’s always a… Read more »
orlandosunvillage
Member
Great result for MCO and for Orlando. Visitor count from the ME has been steadily rising and this direct route is fantastic for them and for the feed that wants to travel from India and other central Asian locations. There is too much rhetoric from the legacy carriers at the moment who want to spoil open skies and prevent opportunity for travel for millions of people. Why are American, Delta and United not operating this and other routes, because there is the demand out there from the new middle classes. How many of their management have flown Etihad, Emirates and… Read more »
straightshooter
Guest

This market would never exist without the subsidies that the ME carriers receive. You can’t have a long-haul, 100% leisure market like this and make it work. Don’t you think there is a reason that that no US carrier has even thought about it? Sounds like you only want to look at it from one side of the coin.

Everything that you argue is great about the ME carriers is only available because they are subsidized. If they had to charge real prices for the product they offered they would not be in business.

airmm
Member

This is not a 100% leisure route. Orlando has the second largest conference center in the Americas, and Port Canaveral (the largest East Coast cruise port) is being expanded under a $630 million contract with a Dubai-based company. MCO has LGW and not LHR service, so for business travel to India and elsewhere, this new route will allow more efficient business travel. There is a large Asian and Indian community in Orlando as well.

ProfessorFlyer
Guest
Governments have been subsidizing airlines — and other modes of transportation — as long as there have been airlines. I will gladly fly a foreign carrier if they provide safe and reliable transportation with better service and the same (or lower) cost than U.S. carriers. We need more competition from foreign carriers. U.S. airlines are taking advantage of their dominance in the domestic market, a dominance due in large part because U.S. law restricts competition by prohibiting foreign ownership. After industry consolidation, there’s now less competition. And what has happened? Routes have been cut, FF programs have become bait-and-switch shell… Read more »
TRB
Member

I see it as a way to get folks that want to go to Orlando to use them and maybe stay over a day or two and patronize their developing attraction playland. Seems the are building more theme parks and water parks again and expanding g Ferrari World and there is the most amazing waterpark there is in Yaz. I can also give American to use Orlando as as a bookend to go enjoy those new places as well. Orlando is rapidly growing and a short distance away from Tampa and Miami.

David SF eastbay
Member

Orlando is just like any other major U.S. city with a lot of people there year round for work or play and they aren’t all Americans or Europeans. EK will be using DXB to connect people to places like India and other beyond DXB locations. Also people living in the middle east like to have fun and Euro Disney can’t offer all the entertainment value like the Orlando area can. But could domed air conditioned Dubai Disney be a goal some day?

Mike
Guest
Flying in Sep to test everything before the December peak season. What’s the issue? A more “passionate” topic is about the subsidies…. Who cares if EK or the other Gulf carriers get subsidies?!! If they can fly me in fantastic style (or better than the American carriers) and at a cheaper price, I am very happy. If the ME governments support their airlines because they see the airline as 1 piece of a bigger puzzle to drive more business / tourists / investment to their countries, then what’s the big deal? Maybe the ME governments look at the airlines like… Read more »
Nick G
Member

Saudia used to continue its flight from Saudi Arabia to Washington onto Orlando. From what I’ve heard there are a lot of wealthy Saudis and probably Emiratis that spend a couple months at a time in Walt Disney World Deluxe hotels and go to the various “Kingdoms” at Disney World. Hey, if money is no consideration Orlando and its many entertainment parks is not a bad way to spend a few months away from the Persian Gulf.

airmm
Member

Here’s a partial list of subsidized airlines. (It’s hard to keep track.) Don’t forget the $5 billion in direct government payments post 9/11 to U.S. carriers:
Alitalia, Lufthansa, Iberia, Swiss, Olympic, Austrian, Air India, Philippine Airlines, JAL, Thai, Qantas, United, American, Delta, US Airways, Continental, and most recently this year another subsidy for South African Airways, which hasn’t seemed to anger anyone.

Darkwater
Guest

Well, besides the South African taxpayers…

ontheroadscott
Guest

Although Orlando is a big leisure/convention draw, this is a very long, thin route. I doubt there is enough demand to profitably fill a daily 777 flight.

Sean
Guest
Orlando already draws large numbers of visitors (tourist & business) from the Mideast and Far East. Getting here involves connecting through either European airports, New York or Miami. That adds hours to an already grueling trip. My guess is Emirates has analyzed travel patterns for those customers and sees a market for direct flights to/from MCO. The Orlando metro’s population is 2.3 million and expected to grow 50% in the next 10-15 years. Tourism aside (which is up), other business and industry is booming. Conventions keep multiple convention and conference centers booked year-round. The airport is expanding and they can’t… Read more »
Red
Member
As someone who works for the company that handles EK in Seattle we are (I am not being official here by the way anything I say is my opinion) at least as an employee group (ramp and gate agents) A. Glad they cant bring an A380 into SeaTac and B. Annoyed but not surprised that we are getting a second flight because except for maybe a month or two where they are just 60-75% full they are always full because of people wanting to go to India (DEL, HYD, BLR, BOM) and Iran. We often are told to set up… Read more »
drybean
Member

Subsidies and politics aside the MCO Air Service Development team had to have had a lot to do with this.
Look who else is flying to MCO…that does not happen just because of the mouse!

Doug Swalen
Guest

Part of me thinks this is Tim Clark doing is best Akbar Al Baker impersonation and deliberately poking the big 3 in the eye after all the crap they’ve tossed his way the past six months. “You think Emirates’ existence depends on subsidies? Watch this move suckers…”

I had read that EK is mulling a second service to SFO. Find that hard to believe since they just started flying the A380 there only recently. But if the load factors and demands are high enough…

mc
Guest

Orlando is a strange city for Emirates to start….Saudia tried it and failed…..it seems most Disney traffic comes from Europe….to take Emirates means back tracking to Dubai, then flying back over the city you came from and i don’t think you can book a ticket that way…..they have all these shiney new planes they need to send somewhere and since they don’t have to worry about profits, why not give it a try….i can’t see that much traffic connecting from MCO onward to India, Asia etc…..time will tell…..

Spring14
Guest

Saudia did not work because it tried to serve the Saudis and middle eastern countries. Emirates main target is Indian Sub Continent and it has five daily flights to New Delhi and it serves upto 15 Indian Airports. 5 Pakistani Airport. 4 Daily Flights to Bangladesh, Srilanka, Nepal.

Spring14
Guest
I thought I could contribute from my personal experience. I live in Orlando and I traveled to Indian Subcontinent with Emirates thru JFK at least 4 times in last 7 years. It is probably true that Disney world in Orlando and other theme parks but from my personal experience, Indian subcontinent and East Asian passengers drive the USA to Dubai route than Middle Eastern passengers. It does sound like most people are not aware of Orlando Demographic and the jobs. Orlando offers high number of technology job. Matter of fact the highest in the State of Florida for IT jobs.… Read more »
SImon
Guest

Miami does not have the same demographics – it has far more Indians and a much larger market to the subcontinent. But it also already has Qatar, and flying to Miami doesn’t make a loud statement like flying to Orlando does. Emirates to Miami or Atlanta is expected; flying to Orlando is not.

Spring14
Guest

You are probably partly right. But I was thinking JetBlue is their partner airlines and it does not serve either city. Miami may have more Indian. I don’t know the exact number of course. I can definitely say Atlanta is a great market but I think Delta won’t allow it. Delta serves Dubai from Atlanta

vjaramillo
Member
So why Orlando? Allow me to add my two cents to this conversation which has been interesting to read. Directing the air service development efforts at MCO for the last 21 years and the one responsible for bringing EK to MCO, any airport ASD professional will tell you long-haul routes don’t just happen overnight though the EK DXB MCO announcement did catch many people by surprise. It takes years of courting and convincing an airline that your city is the best fit for their airline than all the other airport candidates who are out doing the exact same thing. As… Read more »
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