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Airline ramps up the pressure

EMIRATES president Tim Clark is a man with vision who is on a mission. That vision is very simple – bring the fares down and get more people into the air – and was born out of early work experience at British Caledonia Airways at Gatwick Airport in the UK. It is what Mr Clark classes as the “Laker effect”. He said he would come to work and “the sleeping queue” was ready to pay for Sir Freddie Laker’s, Laker Airways’ cheap flights to New York. When the Laker DC-10 was full, the one who just missed out would be at the head of the queue for tomorrow’s flight. “It just didn’t worry them, because the fares were so cheap compared to fare levels then,” Mr Clark said. Catering for the surging tourist numbers has prompted him to raise the flag of an all-economy Airbus A380 seating up to 780 passengers. At the A380 unveiling in January last year, Mr Clark described the A380 as a perfect long-haul low-cost aircraft. While dismissing any near-term plans for a long-haul low cost subsidiary, his comments that passengers could pay just $1,000 for a UK-Australia return flight on an all-economy A380 has sent shudders through airlines around the globe. In the meantime however, he has big plans for Perth with the introduction of the Boeing 777-300ER on December 1. With the introduction of the 777-300ER on the evening flight, Emirates’ services to Perth will all be operated by Boeing 777s, with the smaller 777-200ER operating the morning service. The 777-300ER is configured for 11 first, 42 business and 306 economy. Questions from some sections of the industry that Emirates’ success has been assisted by the government has brought a sharp transparency and accountability challenge to the world’s airlines – many of which doubt its accounts. Mr Clark reiterates the offer by Emirates’ chairman Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum to open its books to any airline – but they had to reciprocate. “We are delighted to have our books examined but these airlines must be prepared to respond with their accounts,” Sheik Ahmed told WA Business News last year. From 1999 to 2005, Emirates grew at an average of 26 per cent a year, although some put that down to it being first to introduce innovations such as seat back videos for all passengers, in the early 1990s, 10 years before most airlines.

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