Qatar and Emirates Have Nice in Growth Plans
The sight of Emirates’ first A380 service into Nice would have delighted Tim Clarke. The previous few months have been tough on the airline and its President, with the general slowdown of the Emirates juggernaut colliding with the electronics ban imposed by the United States. But July 1 – the day of the launch – was a day for celebration as the A380’s wheels touched down for the first time in Nice. It wasn’t long before another Middle East airline, Qatar Airways, flew their first flight into the southern French city. Qatar’s arrival was no less symbolic, being that airline’s second destination in France. Qatar launched the flight on July 4, just 3 days after Emirates sent their A380 over for the first time.
Emirates and Nice
Unlike many of its other routes, Nice was one of Emirates’ destinations before it’s massive growth. The first service began all the way back in 1994, and ever since has been a steady and safe route. And the numbers have continued to rise, clocking up 200,000 passengers over the last year alone. Emirates has been using the Boeing 777ER on the Dubai-Nice route up until the A380 took over. The new service, EK77, leaves Dubai at 08:45 and arrives into Nice at 13:40. The return EK78 departs Nice at 15:40 and arrives in Dubai at 00:10 the next day. 46 cities are now welcoming the Emirates A380 on a regular basis.
Of course, with the A380 comes a more spacious option, especially for economy passengers. There is no doubt that part of the reason for the A380’s rapid distribution is because it is very popular among passengers. In terms of the First Class, the A380 and 777-300ER both have Emirates’ “First Suites”, so seating wise, it’s the same. The A380 does, however, feature a shower for the Premium guests. Business Class will see the most improvement due to the more favorable seating arrangement on the upper floor of the A380. The Boeing 777s still have a middle seat in Business (eek!) whereas the A380 has a much more agreeable 1-2-1 layout.
To coincide with the start of A380 service, Emirates has also created a partnership with helicopter company Monacair. The agreement will see Emirates passengers given the option to be transferred to Monaco by helicopter upon arrival. The service is complimentary for First Class passengers, €79 per passengers for Business Class and €109 per passenger for Economy Class.
Qatar Airways Begins Nice Service
On July 5, Nice became the second city in France to be serviced by Qatar Airways, after Paris. Qatar opted for a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to operate the route between Nice and its hub in Doha. The outbound flight, QR53, leaves Doha at 7:45am and arrives at Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport at 13:15. The return leg, QR54, leaves the French city at 17:10, arriving in Doha at 23:55. VIPs from Qatar Airways and Nice Airport were all present and both sides showed their delight. The service will run 5 times a week, operating every day except Mondays and Wednesdays.
In terms of the product, Qatar is using the 787 Dreamliner for this service. At roughly 5 1/2 hours, this won’t be too bad for the economy passengers having to ensure the tight seats. Business class passengers, on the other hand, will have a private suite in a 1-2-1 layout. 22 Business seats are on board, and shortly passengers will begin seeing the new QSuite that we presented before. This business class, revolutionizes the whole concept and in our opinion, may lead to the further demise of First Class. The QSuite will gradually be fitted into the Dreamliner once installations on the 777 and A350 are complete.
And, like its Gulf neighbor, Qatar Airways will also offer their passengers connections on the Monacair helicopter. There are no complimentary fares here, though you can book the transfers on the website.
Both See Potential for Growth
As we mentioned earlier, it’s been a bit tough lately for the Middle East carriers. For example, the recent severing of diplomatic ties has dampened Qatar Airways’ momentum, particularly in the middle east. It has, however, freed up some aircraft and they have accelerated expansion plans to some cities. Emirates, with their burgeoning A380 fleet, are proving to be a very successful operator of the aircraft. They haven’t abandoned their other stalwart, the Boeing 777, with Emirates ordering 150 of the new 777x aircraft, which is currently in development.
As for Nice, it’s all good news for the sunny city on the French Riviera. It’s close proximity to the beautiful surrounding regions is an asset to its growth potential. It currently enjoys flights to a host of European and International destinations and handled close to 13,000,000 passengers last year. Now that both Emirates and Qatar have increased the seating capacity, the city is sure to continue this trend.