Emirates chief fears ?gathering storm?

Emirates President Tim Clark said the world?s biggest long-haul airline faces a ?gathering storm? as a new generation of low-cost carriers targets the intercontinental routes around which it has built its business. Dubai-based Emirates sees threats across all markets from rivals spanning Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA to the Scoot unit of Singapore Airlines Ltd, Clark said Thursday in Berlin. The Gulf airline may also need to establish a short-haul fleet as Mideast nations, which it has struggled to serve, begin to open up, he said, while cautioning that the decision will be one for his successor. ?The dynamic is changing in the Middle East with regard to access to new markets,? the executive said in Berlin, where travel industry executives have are gathered for the ITB tourism fair. ?Our business model was set in the late 1980s, when access was denied to us by many places in the region.? Clark, who has run Emirates since 2003, said that while he sees no immediate switch away from an all-wide-body fleet, ?others coming behind may take a different view.? The 67-year-old said it would be ?remiss? of him to commit to a particular plan and that ?business doesn?t stop when I go,? giving the strongest hint yet that his time in charge may be drawing to a close. The executive said that the situation is being complicated by the response of established network carriers such as British Airways owner IAG SA, which plans to start lower-cost flights using Airbus Group SE A330 wide-body jets, initially out of Barcelona, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG?s Eurowings arm, which is expanding as fast in long-haul routes as it is on intra-European services. Courtesy: Gulf News.com

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