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Emirates intends to axe its daily Brisbane-Singapore flights, citing "substantial losses" on the route due to a combination of declining revenues and increasing costs.
The Gulf airline and Qantas partner currently flies a Boeing 777-300ER as EK432/EK433 between Singapore and Brisbane as an add-on to the main Dubai-Singapore service.
However, Emirates has now asked the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore for approval to shutter the Singapore-Brisbane leg. CCCS approval is required as this service was listed as part of the Qantas-Emirates alliance founded in 2013, which also saw Qantas abandon Singapore in favour of Dubai as the hub for its London flights.
Qantas since recanted, in March 2018 ditching Dubai and returning to Singapore as the stopover for flights from Sydney to London.
According to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, "Emirates has now applied to CCCS to fully remove its capacity commitments in respect of the Singapore-Brisbane route. Emirates has cited overcapacity, declining revenues and rising costs that have resulted in substantial losses on this route for its withdrawal."
The high cost of competition
In its submission, Emirates says that "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."
"As a consequence of these adverse changes in market conditions and ensuing poor financial performance, it is no longer commercially feasible for Emirates to operate this route."
Emirates in particular cites "increased competition from Singapore Airlines, which has in the past year increased frequency and used larger capacity aircraft."
The Singaporean flag-carrier's four daily flights between Brisbane and Singapore "now account for 62% of the published seats on the route, while Emirates accounts for 21% and Qantas accounts for the remaining 17%."
Emirates also argues that the net effect is that "capacity exceeds demand", which in turn means that Qantas will not need to increase its own capacity on the Brisbane-Singapore route if the Emirates flights are cancelled – although Emirates says that while this was considered by both airlines, "Qantas does not have spare aircraft to deploy on this route."
Beyond issues of capacity, however, the timing of Emirates' Brisbane-Singapore leg – which departs at 2.35am – has always put the airline at a disadvantage, compared to Singapore Airlines' choice of departures at 6.10pm for those wishing to head straight from the office to the airport, or an 11.50pm flight if you'd rather have dinner at home and head to the airport in the late evening.
Approached for comment by Executive Traveller, an Emirates spokesperson said "the intent to suspend flights is based solely upon careful and comprehensive consideration of the commercial viability of the route. More information will be provided in due course. Brisbane remains an important business and leisure destination for Emirates, served with two direct daily flights to Dubai."