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Emirates country manager Enda Corneille with falcon expert Trevor Roche in Dublin last week. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Emirates country manager Enda Corneille with falcon expert Trevor Roche in Dublin last week. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Emirates country manager Enda Corneille with falcon expert Trevor Roche in Dublin last week. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Despite new competition in the market from the highly-rated Qatar Airways, as well as existing rivalry from another award-winning airline in Etihad, Emirates is reporting rising load factors and a buoyant 2017 on its Dublin to Dubai route.

It's a lucrative service given that in addition to passengers, Emirates' workhorse Boeing 777s carry anything from Irish-produced Botox destined for Australia to racehorses, with three Irish thoroughbreds carried Down Under and taking the top three prizes in this year's Melbourne Cup.

This column highlighted the fact earlier in the year that the UAE carrier, which has 44 giant Airbus A380s plus Boeing 787 Dreamliners on order, has looked at bringing the A380 - with its showcase on-board bar for business passengers - to Ireland.

Despite this, country manager Enda Corneille believes Dublin wouldn't be ready to accommodate the aircraft, which can carry 500-plus passengers, "until 2019 at the earliest", citing pressures on infrastructure with the ever-expanding transatlantic network from Aer Lingus.

The heavy hint coming from the airline would be that a third daily service could be an option, even seasonally, if passenger numbers remain high enough to sustain it.

And Corneille believes that while much effort is going into attracting a Chinese market that still has yet to take off, we could be missing a trade trick by not pushing Irish-Middle Eastern business links to the same extent. Still, there is set to be a major announcement in January regarding overall Irish trade and other links with the UAE, which stood at a quite low but growing €1.4bn in 2016, so watch this space.

 

British Airways is expanding its Irish operations from just London Heathrow and London City with a new destination - Manchester. The good news is that it'll be operating a business as well as an economy cabin to the north of England from Dublin.

The Manchester service, commencing in May, will be operated using Embraer 190 aircraft.

The IAG-owned airline is investing heavily across its network, and will be offering high-speed wifi across its fleet - both short and long-haul - over the next two years.

BA believes on-board connectivity will be a big selling point, becoming the first airline to offer on-board internet access using Europe's first ever 4G high-speed in-flight network.

It aims to have 90pc of its fleet connected by 2019 and says customers will be able to use their own devices to browse the internet, access email and check social media. The airline believes it will also be fast enough to stream video content from the likes of Netflix and YouTube.

It's also following carriers such as United Airlines and Qatar Airways in developing options for a new seat in Club World long haul with direct aisle access, so stepping over a sleeping fellow passengers will be a thing of the past from next year.

 

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Miles & More - the popular reward programme run by the Lufthansa Group - is getting a major shake-up. It's good news if you're a frequent flyer, or are on a higher-priced ticket, in the latest push by an airline to bump up revenues.

Up to now award miles, which could be redeemed against products, for further flights or upgrades, were based on booking class and length of route travelled.

From next March they'll be calculated on the price of your flight (plus any additional fees charged) and your frequent flyer status. Miles & More participants will get at least four award miles per euro spent, rising to six depending on frequent flyer service.

The scheme applies to Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines as well as partner airlines United Airlines and Air Canada. The company says it'll mean a doubling of miles for passengers and will also apply to other airlines including Adria Airways, Air Dolomiti, Croatia Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines.

 

Ethiopian airlines - which flies four times a week from Dublin Airport to Los Angeles and Addis Ababa - is offering 10pc discounts to travellers who book via its newly-launched app.

It's currently only available to Android users on the Google Play Store. It will allow users to book flights, check in and can issue boarding cards as well as check the status of flights.

Of interest to Irish business travellers is the onward connectivity from Ethiopia, with 55 African destinations (including Cape Town) and 26 international cities including Chengdu in China.


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