Airline war leads to better travel from East Africa to US capital

Travelers from Emirates’ three East Africa destinations – Entebbe, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam – destined for Washington, DC, can now travel to the US capital on the world’s largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380.

The airline affected the switch from the smaller Boeing B777-300ER as a result of a sharp rise in demand for seats on their flight after United Airlines had given notice they would withdraw from the Washington Dubai route by the end of January.

The big 3 American legacy carriers – United, Delta and American – have been engaged in a war of words and outright trench warfare with the Gulf airlines, which they accused of receiving subsidies, accusations strenuously denied by Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways. In particular, in the case of American, a founder member of the oneworld alliance has the difference of opinion, and their rabid opposition to Gulf airlines created a growing rift with partner Qatar Airways over both tone and content of American’s allegation made in presentations to the US government and congress.

While the US carriers cited sagging demand when announcing, in the case of United the halt of Washington-Dubai flights, and in the case of Delta flights from Atlanta to Dubai later this month, the increase in destinations from the Gulf to the US and the use of larger aircraft signals a different message of what is really happening on the ground and in the air.

In fact, Emirates later this year will add a second Airbus A380 on their route to Los Angeles, again showing that demand exists for quality airline operations but less so for those which are complacent and fly aged aircraft with inferior inflight services compared to the Gulf carriers.

Emirates confirmed that on the first flight of the A380 to Washington, over 20 different nationalities were on board, including a number of travelers from Africa who had connected in Dubai and were surprised to be flying on this super jumbo on their final leg to America.