|In June, Emirates celebrated the launch of the world’s first A380 commercial services to Bangkok (daily) and Toronto (three times per week).|
Since anna.aero last looked at the “Middle East Big 3” (MEB3) airlines of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways back in early April there have been surprisingly few new routes started by these carriers. The exception is Etihad which during the summer launched new non-stop services to Astana, Athens, Istanbul and Larnaca. Of these only Astana is not served by either Emirates or Qatar Airways.
|Among the new routes launched by Etihad during the summer were Larnaca and Athens. Etihad launches non-stop Chicago flights next week followed by Cape Town services at the end of September (via Johannesburg) and Hyderabad in November.|
These airlines rarely drop routes but Qatar Airways gave up its twice-weekly service to Nagpur in India in mid-May. As a result a total of 104 destinations are still served non-stop by the three carriers combined, Astana having in effect replaced Nagpur. Since our last analysis five months ago Emirates has increased its non-stop flights by 5.6%, Etihad by 4.0% but Qatar Airways has actually reduced its non-stop flights by 5.6%.
Several new routes to start before 2010
All three carriers will be launching new routes before the end of the year. Emirates will start non-stop services to Durban and Luanda in October while Qatar Airways heads off to two new Indian destinations (Amritsar and Goa) in October, and Melbourne in December. Finally Etihad launches non-stop Chicago flights next week followed by Cape Town services at the end of September (via Johannesburg) and Hyderabad in November.
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Heathrow now has most flights with MEB3 airlines
Combining weekly frequencies across all MEB3 airlines reveals that London Heathrow (with 84 weekly departures) has overtaken Bahrain as the most served destination. In fact, Bahrain has fallen to third place with 71 weekly flights behind Kuwait with 74. Among long-haul destinations Heathrow is followed by Bangkok (50), Paris CDG and Johannesburg (35 each), and Frankfurt (34) as the best served routes.