Middle East carrier, Emirates Airlines served 144 destinations from its hub in 2019 with the carrier transporting almost 58 million passengers in 2019, of which about 37 million – or 64% – transited Dubai. Western Europe to South Asia was the biggest region, with India-USA the largest country-pair and Dhaka-Jeddah the leading route.
The carrier achieved the feat together with a growing relationship with partner flydubai which has since become even closer. It included the launch of Dubai-Barcelona-Mexico City, which started in December 2019 amid much controversy.
Of Emirates’ ~58 million passengers, approximately 37 million – some 64% – transited over Dubai. It’s no wonder that the MEB3 airline is considered a ‘superconnector’. But with such a broad network, encompassing 71 countries, where exactly did they go?
Western Europe to South Asia #1
South Asia to Western Europe was Emirates’ top region-pair, with around 16% of its total passengers. This is based on analyzing booking data available to Simple Flying via OAG Traffic Analyzer. Emirates had 10 regional markets with more than one million passengers, with these collectively having more than seven in ten of its passengers. The ‘core 10’ were:
1. South Asia to Western Europe
2. Southeast Asia-Western Europe
3. North America-South Asia
4. Middle East-South Asia
5. Australasia-Western Europe
6. Northeast Asia-Western Europe
7. Eastern Africa-Western Europe
8. Southeast Asia-Middle East
9. Middle East-Western Europe
10. Southern Africa-Western Europe
Western Europe featured seven times in the list above. This one region had over 19 million passengers, with some 39 airports served there. However, the importance of Western Europe isn’t necessarily as clear-cut when looking at the top country-pair markets for transit passengers.
India to the US was the biggest country-pair
Emirates had over 900 country-pairs will 5,000 or more passengers, which nicely demonstrates how important the ‘cumulative effect’ is when looking at hubs. India to the US was the MEB3’s thickest country-pair, with the top-10 shown below. Between them, they had about 7.5 million passengers or one in five. They were vital.
1. India to the USA
4. India-Saudi Arabia
5. Pakistan-Saudi Arabia
8. Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia
India to the US had approximately 6,600 passengers each day. 12 US destinations were served that year, including Fort Lauderdale, which ended the following year.
South Asia key
The list above nicely demonstrates the importance of South Asia, with India appearing four times, Pakistan twice, and Bangladesh once. The carrier served 17 airports in South Asia in 2019, including nine in India. The most obvious missing link was Kathmandu, which Emirates served via flydubai.
There are around seven million people from South Asia in Saudi Arabia. This large visiting friends and relatives (VFR) demand, along with religious demand, indicates how important Saudi Arabia was to Emirates. So too was aircraft choice, with the A380 deployed to Jeddah, Medinah, and Riyadh. Jeddah was one of Emirates’ leading A380 destinations in the past decade.
Dhaka-Jeddah was number-one
What was Emirates’ number-one transit origin-and-destination (O&D)? The honor goes to Dhaka-Jeddah, which had over 130,000 round-trip passengers, or about 356 people each day. Emirates normally had 21 weekly departures from Dubai to Dhaka by B777-300ERs.
The leading 10 airport-level O&Ds are as follows, with an estimated 1.1 million passengers between them. Bangkok to Manchester was Emirates’ leading Western Europe O&D; the A380 returned to Manchester on May 19th, 2021. Bangkok was by far Manchester’s largest unserved market in 2019, with over 150,000 point-to-point passengers across all airlines.
1. Dhaka to Jeddah
3. Dhaka-New York JFK
7. London Heathrow-Male
9. Paris CDG-Mauritius
10. Cairo-Kuala Lumpur
But so was London-Bangkok
As you would expect, there is a different picture if city-level O&Ds are considered, as follows. London took seven of the ten spots, with Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted all served. Emirates had up to 81 weekly departures to London from Dubai, with up to 63 by the A380.
6. Dhaka-New York City
9. Kuala Lumpur-London