The Brazilian economy and resultant air travel trends of 2016 have been dire to the say the least. Though there have been signs on the horizon that things are finally hitting a turn for the better. With the shadows of the Dilma Rousseff government well and truly vanquished, it seems as though consumer confidence is returning to the Brazilian skies.
2017 might see the re-vitalization of Brazilian aviation – and given just how big the country is and the scale of its economy, that’s no small deal especially in the era of Open Skies for the country.
In what marks the first Middle Eastern carrier to operate this aircraft type into South America, Emirates (EK) is to upgrade its existing daily 777-300ER services from Dubai (DXB) to Sao Paulo (GRU) to an all Airbus A380-800 operation in 2017.
Effective the beginning of the IATA Summer Schedule for 2017, March 26, EK switch over to their three class A380 from the current three class 777 service on a daily basis. From the look of the travel agent booking portals this seems to be a permanent change and will serve Brazil year-round. Flight timings will remain the same, and look something like this:
(eff March 27):
EK261 DXB 0835 – 1630 GRU 388 Daily
EK262 GRU 0125 – 2255 DXB 388 Daily
Given the long layover the aircraft has in Sao Paulo, one wonders whether EK might be enticed to tag on another South American city just to utilize the A380 during it’s down time? Alas, that’s another question for another day.
Looking at the flight timings and seeing what arrival/departure banks they time with, this bodes well for folks connecting to the Far East and China as well as connections to India, though connections to South East Asia don’t fare so well. This is an important market segment that Emirates services on this route and it’s nothing short of pivotal that EK keeps it’s loyal customer base in this regard. They will drive yields, and consequentially, profits.
Guess what Skywards elites – your chances of an upgrade or a nice bargain on a reward Business Class redemption went up by a huge margin. From 42 potential seats to occupy to 79, you’re almost certain to snag that elusive seat at least in the intervening months past March 2017.
Then there’s the actual hard product – you go from a 2-3-2 lie flat (170 degree recline) bed to a truly fully flat product, with every seat having direct aisle access.
Should we start talking about the world famous Emirates stand up A380 bar/lounge?
For First Class, whilst the existing hard product will remain mostly the same, the A380 does offer a bit more leg room and width in terms of the actual seat – and then of course you’ve now got the addition of the Emirates A380 Spa Showers – another massive boon for the premium traveler flying on such a long route.
In Economy, the actual product remains almost exactly the same. Emirates sends their long haul configuration of the 777 to Brazil from Dubai – which means the latest version of their award winning ICE entertainment system – but in the dreaded 3-4-3 seating configuration. While the configuration remains the same on the A380, you actually have a cabin that was designed to offer that exact product which means a 1.5 inch improvement in seat width – yes, please.
Cabin pressurization on the A380 is also 33% better (more humid) than on the 777 – an mark of the advancement in aircraft technology – and it does go a long way in helping folks out there to adjust to the long hours up in the air. Flights are blocked at more than 15 hours both ways.
Emirates’ addition of the A380 to South America is most definitely a welcome addition to their network. Both Lufthansa and British Airways offer seasonal A380 services to the continent, and Air France is touted to be the next one to the party – we assume that all those involved will be looking onwards with baited breath to see how Emirates fares with their own A380 operations.
This upgrade is certainly in reaction to Etihad pulling all operations from Brazil a few months ago, as EK seeks to scoop up the remaining demand that’s been left in that surprising wake. It’s also been reported that Qatar Airways, Emirates’ other main foil in the region in terms of competing traffic, is struggling to penetrate the market effectively with their limited operations in the region. Emirates coming in strong and offering a vast upgrade on daily seats available will surely make things more challenging for QR – especially on a price matching basis.
Either way, and regardless of the reason, one thing is certain – the passenger is the one to gain in this new development. Emirates now offers more seats (something like a 30% increase across all classes in fact) into a major South American business and transit destination which means lower costs for EK, resulting in lower fares for all involved. In turn, it also means more redemption opportunities for Skywards, oneworld (Qantas) and Star Alliance (United) elites – be it award tickets or upgrades. Cherry on the icing of the cake? A better overall hard product! We’d take the staggered 1-2-1 EK A380 Business product over their rather substandard 777 2-3-2 product any day and the same can be said for every class of service, as mentioned above.
We’re expecting some nice little fare sales from Emirates in the Spring and Summer as they introduce the new A380 services to Sao Paulo so keep your eyes peeled for them – we certainly will, and will inform you if and when we see them! Would you take up an opportunity to get on an EK A380 to Brazil? Is the upgrade to the A380 product in comparison their 777 enough to entice you over to the dark side? Let us know!