Emirates has one of the largest fleets of aeroplanes in the entire world, but surprisingly is one of the least diverse fleets, only operating A380s and Boeing 777s (They have a fleet of 250 planes and another 200 on order). For each of these craft, there is a minimum sitting capacity of at least 250 passengers as they do not have any smaller planes.
This has always restricted what routes Emirates can fly. Many destinations simply do not have the demand Emirates can supply, and thus why we always see such cheap tickets on their planes.
However, what if they follow in the footsteps of their rivals, such as Etihad: diversify their fleet so they can operate to more bespoke routes.
The perfect plane for this is, of course, the Boeing 737
What would it look like?
It would be a radical departure from their current business model of operating large twin-aisle jets.
They would also lose the economies of scale when it comes to maintenance and staffing, by having such consistent fleet so far they have been able to reduce these high costs that normally plague other airlines.
We would see them operating 737s into Emirates hubs, such as Dubai, or major cities, for passengers to transfer to their A380s.
With small craft, we may also see them start to integrate ideas that we normally see in rapid budget carriers. More convenience and less opulence, such as doing away with first-class, having customers pay for seat selection, and ultimately no inclusive meals and beverages.
On the flipside, we may actually see a luxury version of the 737, with nearly all the seats being first-class and business class, including flatbeds large screens and all the amenities you would expect. It would be an excellent point of difference to what is currently available on the market and might entice big pocketed customers who are underserved in the 737 market.
Knowing the scale that this airline operates, if they do make a large purchase order these jets, it will dramatically change the landscape of the airline industry. We would see them operate to many more cities and destinations, many of which are unrealistic with the current aircraft, in terms of passenger demand and limitations of the actual airports themselves.
Perhaps the answer to what it may look like is in the Flydubai partnership.
How possible is this?
To answer this question we only need to look at an interview from CNNMoney:
Emirates Airline President Tim Clark said he is looking at buying smaller single-aisle jets, better known for tighter cabins and fewer amenities, rather than its opulent airliners with showers and walk-up bars.
Clark, longtime president of the world’s largest international airline, told CNN’s Richard Quest there are three different studies on his desk today. Over the next 18 months, the airline will decide between adding the smaller aircraft like the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320, combining that with a deal for smaller twin-aisle jets, or continuing to only buy twin-aisle aircraft.
Only time will tell.