Emirates Airline is applying a 560-ton crowbar to pry open Germany’s capital.
The Middle Eastern carrier is bringing its Airbus A380 flagship to the ILA air show in Berlin next week, straight out of the factory 200 miles northwest in Hamburg where the double-decker received its final touches. The 48th superjumbo in the airline’s fleet, the A380 will serve as a magnet for visitors to the expo and a reminder to other carriers that Emirates commands an unrivaled armada to dominate global traffic flows.
“We are happy to be in Berlin with our eco-efficient A380 flagship for a third time at the ILA,” Thierry Antinori, the airline’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “We hope that Berlin will soon be a part of our growing network.”
Germany has restricted the carrier to a maximum of four destinations in Europe’s largest economy under a bilateral agreement, for now excluding Berlin as the country’s top tourist target. Emirates has said its drive to add routes using the world’s biggest fleet of wide-body jets is being frustrated as other carriers lobby their governments to limit market access.
Emirates now serves Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Dusseldorf, exhausting its limit. It uses A380s on both of its daily flights to Munich, a city that is popular with affluent travelers from the Middle East. Etihad Airways PJSC, the third-biggest Persian Gulf carrier, also increased service out of Munich after switching to double-daily flights from Abu Dhabi in February.
Emirates has sought to use the biennial Berlin air show as a forum to promote its ambitions. Four years ago, the state-owned airline topped up its A380 order book with the purchase of 32 more double-deckers, at the time the biggest single order of the superjumbo. Etihad will receive its first A380 at the end of this year, and Qatar Airways Ltd. will begin operating the largest passenger airliner in coming weeks.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ chairman and chief executive officer, said in November at the Dubai Air Show that countries which don’t open up to other airlines “can take their airplanes back.”
Carsten Spohr, Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s new CEO, on April 29 identified the menace of fast-expanding Gulf carriers as his biggest challenge, saying the airlines operate out of an economic and regulatory environment that’s not level with the rest of the world.