Emirates will begin a daily flight to the South African city of Durban starting October 1 this year, almost a year after original scheduled date. The airline had earlier planned to launch the Durban route in December 2008, but deferred it after a review of aircraft deployment during a period of fuel price volatility.
"Durban was originally due to launch on December 1 last year. It was deferred after a routine review of our operations, which we periodically conduct to ensure the best utilisation of our aircraft fleet for our overall business goals," Mike Simon, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice-President, Corporate Communications, told Emirates Business.
Outlining the reasons for the Durban service deferral, an Emirates spokesperson had said in June last year that the high oil prices were making a dent in the airline's profitability.
In yet another move, the airline has lifted the temporary suspension of the third daily Johannesburg flight, which was due to take effect from February 1.
"EK766 will operate on a scaled back basis – three times a week – from February 1 to March 29. The third daily flight will return to its full seven days a week operation from March 30. This follows a review of our operations, which includes factors such as aircraft availability and market requirements," Simon said.
When asked if Emirates had put on hold any other route launches due to aircraft delivery delay problems, he said: "Emirates is constantly evaluating its routes in line with aircraft available. We are in close and regular contact with manufacturers to ensure delivery schedules remain as smooth as possible so our growth and expansion plans can be realised."
"A key consideration is to make sure any changes or revisions that are made have no or a minimum impact on our valued customers," Simon added.
Meanwhile, Emirates had also pushed back the launch of its two US destinations last year – Los Angeles and San Francisco, following aircraft delivery delays.
The carrier started services to Los Angeles from October 1, a month later than scheduled, and to San Francisco on December 15 last, after a two-month delay.