Emirates chases Singapore market, especially corporates

EMIRATES Singapore is shifting into high gear in order to grab a bigger slice of the corporate market, creating a new global sales position here to drive demand for the airline’s five daily flights to Dubai, the most recent of which was launched in August.

Country manager Singapore and Brunei, Andrew Bunn, said that the opportunity to develop the local market had only materialised in December 2012 when Emirates introduced an A380 for one of its daily services permanently, which pumped up capacity by 46 per cent.

The airline now has 35 flights a week between Dubai and Singapore, with 28 of them nonstop and seven via Colombo, in addition to daily services from Singapore to Brisbane and Melbourne.

He commented: “Before my time (Bunn came onboard in April after 17 years at Lufthansa), we would be crying out for seats from inventory control for point-of-sale Singapore. Our connectors from Brisbane and Melbourne were always operating with very high loads, with seats being sold by Australia and the UK, or other markets.”

While only 15 to 20 per cent of revenue from Singapore is corporate, Bunn wants to grow this by reaching out not just to TMCs and business travel agencies, but also travel managers and end-users by building up loyalty through Emirates’ frequent flyer programme.

The new global sales executive hired a month ago would target Singaporean companies that have a regional footprint or South-east Asian companies that may not have a global deal in place.

Bunn elaborated: “What Emirates has traditionally done is focus more on the volume market. But over a period of time, especially with such a great business class product, we can go directly to the corporates. That also protects the yield.

“Singaporean companies have always traditionally picked one carrier, but that is changing. We’re able to position ourselves right up against the competition because of our network and product…Why not take a big aircraft into and out of Dubai and have product consistency all the way rather than connecting somewhere in Europe onto a small aircraft? As our network grows, we’re able to offer that.”

Emirates has no doubt been rapidly expanding its network, with routes launched in recent months including Boston, Chicago, Brussels, Budapest and Oslo. Next March, it is also stepping up frequency on New York (JFK) with a fourth daily flight using an A380.

Calling the new destinations a game changer in being able to attract the leisure market as well, Bunn said: “It’s been almost a little surprising how well received Budapest and Oslo have been with Singaporeans. There’s a real desire to travel and explore. They want to see the Northern Lights and also sail up the Danube.”

These have helped turn Singapore, which has traditionally been strong in transit traffic, into a market in its own right, he added. From a “high percentage” before, transit passengers now generally account for 35 to 40 per cent across all flights.

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