The Europe-Asia market: EURO legacy carriers struggle to keep up with “MEB3” Emirates, Etihad & Qatar

Expansion of the MEB3 networks in Europe and Asia, combined with new aircraft like the 787 (which  make 'thin' point-to-point routes more viable) means the number of cities connected with just a single stop offered by the MEB3 carriers is likely to grow much faster than the number of city-pairs connected with just a single stop offered by Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa...

Expansion of the MEB3 networks in Europe and Asia, combined with new aircraft like the 787 (which make 'thin' point-to-point routes more viable) means the number of cities connected with just a single stop offered by the MEB3 carriers is likely to grow much faster than the number of city-pairs connected with just a single stop offered by Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa...

At the recent Dubai Air Show Emirates announced what it described as the single largest order in dollar value in Boeing’s history (for up to 70 777-300ERs valued at US$26 billion). This confirms that the biggest of the Middle East’s Big 3 (MEB3) carriers, just like local rivals Etihad and Qatar Airways, has no plans to reign in its ambitious growth plans. For many years all three carriers have been exploiting their geographic position, midway between Europe and Asia, to create 24-hour air travel hubs. Apart from connecting Europe and Asia all three carriers have also increasingly targeted Africa and North America to create truly global hubs. This analysis takes a closer look at the Europe-Asia market and what competition is provided by Europe’s global legacy carriers from the main European hub airports.

London Heathrow is leading European airport for MEB3 carriers

Combining the networks of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways reveals that London Heathrow is by far the best served airport in Europe in terms of weekly frequencies. Between them, the MEB3 carriers operate 12 daily flights to Europe’s busiest airport. In second place, maybe somewhat unexpectedly is Manchester airport, also in the UK, with a total of seven daily flights.

MEB3 top 13 European airports Weekly departures by carrier

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 November 2011

A total of 11 other airports in Europe welcome at least three daily flights from the MEB3 carriers, with Frankfurt and Paris receiving between six and seven daily flights from these carriers. Surprisingly absent from this list of leading European airports are Amsterdam (which is only served daily by Emirates) and Madrid (served just daily by Emirates and Qatar Airways).

No non-stop flights to Jakarta and Manila from Frankfurt, London, Paris

To see how Europe’s leading legacy carriers compare with the MEB3 airlines on major routes between Europe and Asia an analysis of OAG data was undertaken to determine the busiest airports in Asia (excluding Australasia), which confirmed that Beijing was the region’s busiest airport followed by Tokyo Haneda and Hong Kong. Where more than one airport serves a major city (such as in Tokyo and Shanghai) data for the two airports was combined. The three leading European hubs served by the MEB3 carriers are London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Paris CDG. Analysis of the weekly non-stop flights provided by all airlines to the 14 leading Asian cities shows that London Heathrow has 325 flights to these 14 cities, Frankfurt 180, and Paris CDG 178.

Top 14 Asian cities Weekly non-stop flights from European hubs

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 November 2011

Hong Kong (93 weekly departures), Singapore (91) and Tokyo (88) are the best served cities from these three European hubs, followed by Delhi and Bangkok. Two airports, Jakarta in Indonesia and Manila in the Philippines, are not served non-stop from any of these three airports. However, Manila is served non-stop by KLM from Amsterdam, and KLM also serves Jakarta (but via Kuala Lumpur), while Garuda connects the two cities via Dubai.

No MEB3 flights to Taiwan at present

Analysis of how many weekly flights MEB3 carriers offer to Asia’s leading cities reveals that Bangkok with 63 weekly departures (nine daily flights) leads the way followed by Delhi and Mumbai with 49 weekly departures each. Jakarta is served with four daily flights and Manila with just over five daily flights. However, Taipei in Taiwan is currently not served by any of the MEB3 carriers.

Top 14 Asian cities Weekly non-stop flights from MEB3 carriers

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 12 September 2011

MEB3 carriers strong in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka

Analysis of OAG data for the first week of November helps highlight which of the leading European global hub carriers (Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa) and which of the MEB3 carriers serve which Asian markets from their respective hubs. Given that the four leading European hub carriers have extensive European networks this gives a reasonable indication of which Asian destinations can be reached flying on a single airline and with no more than one stop en-route.

Country Air France British Airways KLM Lufthansa Emirates Etihad Qatar Airways
Bangladesh Dhaka Dhaka Dhaka
China Beijing
Guangzhou
Shanghai
Beijing
Shanghai
Beijing
Chengdu
Hangzhou
Shanghai
Xiamen
Beijing
Guangzhou
Nanjing
Shanghai
Beijing
Guangzhou
Shanghai
Beijing Beijing
Guangzhou
Shanghai
Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong
India Bangalore
Delhi
Mumbai
Bangalore
Chennai
Delhi
Hyderabad
Mumbai
Delhi Bangalore
Chennai
Delhi
Kolkata
Mumbai
Ahmedabad
Bangalore
Chennai
Cochin
Delhi
Hyderabad
Kolkata
Kozhikode
Mumbai
Trivandrum
Bangalore
Chennai
Cochin
Delhi
Hyderabad
Kozhikode
Mumbai
Trivandrum
Ahmedabad
Amritsar
Bangalore
Chennai
Cochin
Delhi
Goa
Hyderabad
Kolkata
Kozhikode
Mumbai
Trivandrum
Indonesia Jakarta Jakarta Jakarta
Japan Osaka
Tokyo
Tokyo Osaka
Tokyo
Nagoya
Osaka
Tokyo
Osaka
Tokyo
Tokyo Osaka
Kazakhstan Almaty Almaty
Astana
Almaty
Astana
Korea Seoul Seoul Seoul Seoul Seoul Seoul
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur
Maldives Male Male Male
Nepal Kathmandu Kathmandu
Pakistan Islamabad
Karachi
Lahore
Peshawar
Islamabad
Karachi
Lahore
Peshawar
Islamabad
Karachi
Lahore
Peshawar
Philippines Manila Manila Manila Cebu
Manila
Russia Ekaterinburg
Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore
Sri Lanka Colombo Colombo Colombo
Thailand Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Ho Chi Minh
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 November 2011

The MEB3 carriers all have extensive Indian networks, serve the four main airports in Pakistan, and serve Bangladesh (Dhaka) and Sri Lanka (Colombo). While future aircraft developments (such as the Boeing 787) are expected to make more ‘thin’ point-to-point routes viable, the on-going expansion of the MEB3 networks in Europe, Asia (and elsewhere) means that the number of city-pairs connected with just a single stop offered by the MEB3 carriers is likely to grow faster than the number of city-pairs connected with just a single stop offered by Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa.

Note: “MEB3” is a term invented by anna.aero. You may use it freely, but just remember it was invented here.


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Comments

  1. Allplane says:

    The MEB3 can do for European second-tier airports what they have done to Indian second-tier cities: by-pass the traditional hubs of reference, I am thinking in airports such as BCN, for example, http://allplane.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-qatar-airways-new-flight-barcelona.html

  2. Vanni Gibertini says:

    BA flies to MLE, even if from LGW.

  3. Sanjeev M says:

    @Allplane, this is the strategy of Turkish Airlines, connect places like Genoa, Gotenburg and Valencia to Istanbul and beyond. They are able to do it with 737’s so it’s cost effective.

    BA survives on North America. LH survives on a strong reputation and finicky cost cutting, and KLM has Africa. AF is just in trouble.

    Also, Emirates interlines people on to Flydubai’s flights to Kathmandu so EK effectively serves it.

  4. Gunnar F. Emausson says:

    Actually, MEB4 might be more appropriate. Gulf Air (GF) has a long history of connecting Europe with Asia via Bahrain, albeit with fewer flights than the big three.

  5. Patrick says:

    You mention that Taipei is not served by any of the MEB3 [how do I do the little “Trade Mark” symbol?]. If I recall correctly it used to be the case that China wouldn’t allow airlines to serve both the mainland and Taipei (hence the fig-leaf “subsidiaries” like “British Asia Airways”, “KLM Asia”, “Air France Asia” etc. to operate the Taipei services under the same code as their parent). Is this still the case?

  6. Baccarat213 says:

    @Sanjeev M :
    Since 10th november Flydubai also interlines
    Belgrade,Serbia with EK destinations worldwide.
    Something Turkish Airlines and *Alliance is not very happy about!

  7. Aibidil says:

    It is not only the European legacy carriers that are struggling – also Qantas, Air India, PIA, Malaysia, Thai and even, to a lesser degree, Singapore

Comments are closed