Emirates maintains it will continue direct flights between Melbourne and Singapore, despite the airlines' plan to withdraw from the Brisbane-Singapore route due to "substantial losses" after declining revenues and increasing costs.
The Gulf airline and Qantas partner currently flies a Boeing 777-300ER daily from both Melbourne and Brisbane to Singapore, with those flights then continuing on to Dubai. The add-on Australian leg is what's known as a "fifth freedom flight" – an arrangement permitting airline to carry passengers between foreign countries as a part of a service connecting to its own country.
Emirates is now seeking to end its Brisbane-Singapore EK432/EK433 flights, although the parent Singapore-Dubai flights will remain. The airline says that over recent years "the market has changed, making it a more challenging environment for Emirates... specifically, overcapacity, declining revenues and rising costs have resulted in Emirates suffering substantial losses on the route."
However, Emirates says it harbours no similar plans to close the counterpart Melbourne-Singapore EK404/EK405 service.
Melbourne-Singapore is safe, Emirates says
In the airline's submission to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore seeking approval to shutter Singapore-Brisbane flights, Emirates notes that "it will continue to serve the Singapore market from Dubai to Singapore and will continue to operate fifth freedom services from Singapore to Melbourne."
Emirates has been steadily drawing down on Australian 'fifth freedom' flights, having scuppered trans-Tasman Airbus A380 flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Auckland across 2017-2018 and now retaining only a daily Sydney-Christchurch superjumbo (EK412/EK413) which slots into the parent Dubai-Sydney service.
At the time, Emirates CEO Tim Clark remarked that demand on its Australia-Auckland flights was reduced after the airline launched non-stop flights between Auckland and Dubai, leaving the superjumbo as too large an aircraft for the trans-Tasman hop.
“I guess if we had a smaller aeroplane we might not have” cancelled the New Zealand flights, Clark pondered. “The A380 is just too big for the market.”