Emirates targets 20-hour ultra long-haul flights
By: Shane McGinley
Emirates Airline president Tim Clark is in talks with US manufacturer Boeing to develop aircraft that will allow it to fly ultra long-haul flights of up to 20 hours.
The talks are part of the carrier's aim to double its global route network to nearly 270 destinations, it has been reported.
The state-owned carrier currently flies to 134 destinations in 77 countries and Clark told The New Zealand Herald newspaper in an interview he would like to double that figure, but did not give any specific timeline for achieving this.
"Remember we don't always serve primary cities, we are into second-level and third-level airports," he was quoted as saying.
"Demand is hard to predict, we are not masters. Because we find it easy to make changes - if we find we are running out of aeroplanes we'll just go and order some more."
The Dubai-based carrier currently operates 200 wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft and has orders for an additional 194 aircraft, worth more than $71bn.
In a bid to achieve his goal of nearly 270 locations, the report said Clark was in talks with US manufacturer Boeing on a new model of the 777, the 777X, which would allow it to fly ultra long 20-hour flights.
Clark said Sydney to Rome was on the horizon if the US manufacturer could develop an aircraft that was comfortable enough for passengers to sustain such a single journey.
"You've got to make sure you've got sufficient bits and pieces in there to deal with it," he was quoted as saying. He said options would include light colour palettes and the use of mood lighting to try and "alleviate the stress and boredom". As part of the 777 upgrade, the report Clark was looking at options such as a new wing and engines and larger windows.
Earlier this year the carrier signed a partnership with Australian carrier Qantas but Clark has not ruled out Emirates flying across the Pacific or offering direct services from Asia to North America.
"This is Air New Zealand and Qantas territory - we're conscious of [not] upsetting [them] but if I see there is real demand that the incumbents can't service, then probably," he was quoted as saying.
"We're not out to take away from them what they've gone and built over those years, but if there's an opportunity which is an equitable one we would consider it."