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Arabian Planes Are Coming
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In what many expect to be good news for additional cheap travel options, including cheap airplane tickets, discount travel deals, and cheap vacation packages, small Arab nations (including Abu Dubai, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates) are purchasing far more new planes than are needed to service their own tiny populations.
These nations are home to hubs of three of the fastest growing airlines (Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways) that have proven more than capable of competing with the world’s much larger airlines.
These three airlines purchased 342 new planes from Boeing and 142 planes from Airbus at last year’s Dubai Air Show.
Qatar Airways recently accepted receipt of its first new Boeing 787 Dreamliner which is made largely from lightweight carbon composites. The airline has 30 more Dreamliners on order and an option to purchase an additional 30. These planes are highly desirable because of their fuel efficiency and passenger friendly interiors.
The Middle East carriers’ commitment to purchasing cutting edge new planes is indicative of how they are positioning themselves at the top of global customer satisfaction rankings.
These airlines are aiming to dramatically expand their flights at the expense of not only Singapore and Lufthansa Airlines, but also U.S. airlines who continue to struggle and remain under capitalized after years of damaging price wars, poor management, wage cuts, old planes, unreliable service, and other problems.
The expanding Middle East airlines have significant (some claim unfair) backing from their governments. The U.S. based airline pilots association (ALPA) is lobbying against the Abu Dhabi airport receiving permission to offer U.S. Customs pre-clearance since it claims this would give an unfair service advantage to Etihad Airlines, given that no U.S. based airline flies from Abu Dhabi to the U.S.
Middle East Airlines are pursuing policies of quick growth by leveraging their locations, which lets them connect passengers to cities across continents with a single stop at their Gulf hubs. Now they are starting to fill out their networks by adding more destinations in the United States because of the country’s size and limited direct connection to many overseas destinations.
Recent examples of increased Middle East destinations in the U.S. are Qatar flying to Philadelphia, Emirates to Boston, and Etihad to Los Angeles.
The competition on long haul (i.e., long distance) flights is likely to make such flights more pleasant and perhaps even cheaper.
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