Emirates growing faster than Etihad and Qatar Airways; MEB3 carriers target US and Poland for growth

Since the last anna.aero analysis of the MEB3 carriers, Qatar Airways has focused its expansion to Iraq, launching flights to both Baghdad and Erbil, while Emirates’ focus has been in Europe, launching flights to Barcelona and Lisbon.

Since anna.aero last looked at the “Middle East Big 3” (MEB3) airlines of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways back in May, there have been just eight new non-stop route launches.

Emirates (Dubai) Etihad (Abu Dhabi) Qatar Airways (Doha)
Barcelona (Spain)
Erbil (Iraq)
Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
Lisbon (Portugal)
Lagos (Nigeria) Baghdad (Iraq)
Erbil (Iraq)
Perth (Australia)
Source: anna.aero new route database

Of these, only Lisbon is a completely new destination for the MEB3 carriers taken as a whole. As a result Emirates now serves 107 destinations non-stop, Qatar Airways is up to 94, and Etihad has reached 70.

Kilimanjaro, Mombasa and Zagreb are new one-stop destinations

During the summer, Qatar Airways has added one-stop flights to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (via Dar es Salaam), Mombasa in Kenya (also via Dar es Salaam) and Zagreb in Croatia (via Budapest). Kilimanjaro, Mombasa and Zagreb are all new destinations for the MEB3 carriers. Since our last analysis in May, Emirates has increased its non-stop flights from its home base by 6.6%, Qatar Airways by 3.3%, and Etihad by just 2.3%.

Several more new routes planned for remainder of 2012 and 2013

Routes so far announced by the MEB3 carriers which have not yet launched are:

  • Emirates (5 routes) to Washington Dulles (12 September), Adelaide (1 November), Lyon (5 December), Phuket (10 December), Warsaw (6 February 2013).
  • Etihad (4 routes) to Ahmedabad (1 November), Addis Ababa (2 November), Washington Dulles (31 March 2013), Sao Paulo (1 June 2013).
  • Qatar Airways (6 routes) to Yangon (3 October), Tokyo Narita (28 October), Maputo via Johannesburg (31 October), Belgrade via Ankara (20 November), Warsaw (5 December), Chicago O’Hare (10 April 2013).

Warsaw and Washington Dulles are both being launched by two of the three carriers. Washington is already served by Qatar Airways, but Warsaw will be a new destination for the MEB3 carriers.

Download the Middle East hub comparison spreadsheet


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