Emirates three-class Boeing 777-300ER. Photo: Emirates.

LONDON – Emirates has launched their services to London Stansted today, which will operate daily. The flight marks the first time an international airline based in the Middle East has operated out of the airport and will connect the east of England with the 155 destinations that are under Emirates’ portfolio.

The Boeing 777-300ER touched down at 1400 local. London Stansted is now the 7th UK airport that the carrier operates into and brings the number of daily flights to the three London airports to 10, with Stansted joining Gatwick and Heathrow.

The 777-300ER is fitted with 8 First Class Suites, 42 Business Class seats as well as 304 seats in Economy.

A6-EQK, the inaugural Boeing 777-300ER seen landing on Runway 04 at London Stansted today. PHOTO: Thomas Saunders.

Ken O’Toole, Stansted’s CEO commented on the milestone: “Today is a truly significant moment in the history of London Stansted and we are delighted that our millions of passengers, based in London and the East of England, will see huge benefits from the direct connection between the airport and Emirates hub in Dubai and its vast array of onward connections. In 2018 Stansted is set to be the fastest growing London airport and a key enabler of economic growth for both the UK and East of England, and the addition of the new Emirates service will provide a further boost to our long-haul ambitions and ultimately save local passengers valuable time and money that is associated with flying from other airports across London.”

Hubert Frach, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President also commented on this milestone: “We decided to add London Stansted to our network because we saw an opportunity to directly connect the local community with some of the world’s most popular leisure and business destinations. Previously, London’s northeast and the wider 7.5 million people that live within Stansted’s catchment areas had to travel into the city, or further, to access airports with global reach. Now, this daily flight to Dubai connects passengers seamlessly to Emirates points across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australasia. There’s been a real appetite for increased connectivity between the thriving business community in the East of England and our global network too. The new gateway will support the swell of new start-ups, SMEs and established businesses in the London Stansted Cambridge Corridor by giving them access to new cities and countries across the globe.”

London Stansted will also have access to Emirates SkyCargo, who connects cargo to 85 different countries and carries around 140,000 tonnes of cargo in and out of the UK every year. The 777-300ER will provide around 20 tonnes of cargo capacity per flight. The Stansted route now joins Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, and Glasgow in terms of UK operations.

The daily flight departs Dubai at 0930 local and arrives in Stansted at 1410 local, with the return flight departing at 2110 local and arriving in Dubai at 0705 local the next day.

UK Operations… Where next for the Middle Eastern Carriers?

PHOTO: London Stansted.

With Emirates now adding Stansted to their network, it is interesting to see where the UK expansion continues next. If Stansted has been added to the network, then they are obviously not looking to halt any level of growth out of the UK any time soon.

Emirates seem to be adopting more of a niche strategy, similar to that of Qatar Airways who recently launched services to Cardiff from Doha. It shows a significant message to competitors that Emirates is willing to adapt to smaller and more niche markets if permitted operationally.

READ MORE: Emirates Adds Third Daily Frequency to Moscow

It obviously shows that with the less significant airports such as Cardiff, Stansted etc., that there is demand there and the demand is growing there as a result of oversaturation in the mainstream airports.

Ultimately, it will be interesting to see where Emirates decides to go next. For the Scotland front, there isn’t much luck as they have already covered Glasgow and Edinburgh. The likes of Aberdeen don’t really offer the operational capacity that Emirates asks for.

Maybe for the UK, destinations such as Liverpool, East Midlands or maybe even Prestwick could be a further option for the carrier looking into the future, especially if they do not want to bring their UK expansion to a close.

READ MORE: Emirates to Launch A380 Flights to Osaka

Etihad Airways seem to be falling behind with this sort of approach, especially with the financial troubles that the carrier is undergoing at this point in time. It is very unlikely that they are going to follow the same footsteps to that of Emirates and Qatar as the other two carriers are more financially viable at this point to do such operations.

For now, the milestone is there to be celebrated. Another element of UK expansion for Emirates has been successfully implemented. Now they have to see what the results are like in terms of load factors, passenger numbers as well as cargo tonnage over the next 12 months.