Without a doubt, Emirates already has the most number of seats going from two London airports (Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW)) to Dubai International Airport (DXB). This number will increase when the Middle Eastern airline operates all Airbus A380-800s starting January 1, 2016.
Emirates was the first airline to operate the double-decker aircraft into London Heathrow Airport back in December 2008 with EK1 and EK2.
It was not until January 2012 that Emirates added more A380s onto this route replacing older Airbuses and Boeing 777s. By the end of that year, it was already operating five daily flights using this aircraft type.
By 2014, while the airline would like to add more flights to LHR, it faced with the challenge of a congested airport with no additional operating slots available. This is when it decided to upgauge flights to LGW with the A380. The first change was completed in March 2014 with the second moved up to April of this year. The third daily flight (EK11/12) will be using this aircraft by January 1, 2016 (refer to this news release for more information).
The following is the updated schedule from DXB to LGW starting on that date:
With the new deployment, Emirates will add upwards to another ~130 seats per flight (up to ~1,800 seats per week). Most of this capacity increase will be in the economy cabin.
Emirates will continue to be the only airline in the world flying DXB-LGW non-stop. From an overall London perspective, it will have 10 Airbus A380 daily non-stop flights when combined with key partner Qantas Airways (QR)’s two times daily operation. This represents 71% of the overall flights between these two cities and more than 75% of the seats available as the other airlines British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS) and Royal Brunei Airlines (BI) service the route with smaller capacity aircrafts.
Additionally, with more frequencies available, Emirates is able to feed more traffic to/from Asia/Australia/Africa into the London area. As shown by the infographic below, part of Emirates strategic direction is to provide more connections for passengers. It currently operates non-stop flights to 40+ destinations in Asia (including India and Middle East), 7 in Australia/New Zealand and 20+ in Africa.
With slightly lower prices, more frequencies/connection options and a competitive on-board product (refer to our coverage on Emirates providing free WiFi for all travellers here), the airline may be able to capture more passengers sacrificing non-stop flights and fly one-stop via Dubai International Airport. This strategy has proven to be very successful as a fourth daily Airbus A380 to Bangkok was just announced (refer to news release for more information).
Given LGW is classified as a leisure market with more low cost carriers operating there, it is a likely candidate for the 615 seat two-class configuration A380. This high density configuration will be introduced by Emirates on DXB to Copenhagen Airport (CPH) starting December 1, 2015.
Given the availability of the Airbus A380 in its fleet, Emirates is able to expand its marketshare without adding more flights into a high competitive market like London. By January 1, 2016, it will operate 8 daily flights to London which will further put pressure on other airlines to compete on items such as price, product innovation and marketing.