Taking off again

November 5, 2021

The return of Emirates’ Dubai flights to Newcastle International Airport was a watershed moment in the wider region’s travel industry. Freed from the constraints of Government COVID-19 restrictions, the resumption of the flagship route, through four weekly services, reunites the North East with a valued long-haul link that not only unlocks a great swathe of the world to holidaymakers but plays a crucial role in this region’s – and the wider UK’s – path to successful business connectivity. Here, Richard Jewsbury, Emirates’ UK divisional vice president, tells Steven Hugill more about the significance of the flights’ return.

Words by Richard Jewsbury

Emirates’ UK divisional vice president

It’s good to be back!
It has been a hard 18 months, but it’s good to see the aircraft return and passenger demand building.

Our partnership with Newcastle International Airport, its shareholders and the wider public community of the North East, is a tremendously supportive one, and together we will keep building back, with good times ahead.

We knew there was a good opportunity in the North East when we started flights back in 2007.

London is an important market, but the UK is so much more than just London and the South East.

Newcastle has a very large catchment area, and when you look at the number of people living in the North East and the business development going on, it made – and continues to make – great sense to have services from the region.

If you live in the North East, you can get on a plane straight into Dubai, which then opens opportunities to travel further into Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Australasia and Africa. It’s a win-win situation for leisure passengers and the business community, and history shows our partnership has worked.

And we are very focused on building our number of flights from Newcastle.

Prior to COVID-19, we had a daily Dubai service and that is what we expect to get back to.

We saw a dramatic reduction of the red list in the Government’s last review and that is certainly stimulating demand and traffic out of the UK.

Some overseas markets remain difficult to access. Australia and New Zealand were historically two important markets out of Newcastle, for example, but are difficult to get into at present.

However, they are expected to open soon, and demand will increase.

And, coupled with other markets, I’d expect all of that will help us build back to a daily flight from Newcastle.

Daily services are important too for corporate traffic because businesses wanting to connect with the Middle East and beyond need convenient travel.

The route also plays a vital role in the North East economy in terms of air freight. If you look at what was going through

Newcastle back in 2006, the year before we started operating, cargo exports were about £20 million.

Roll forward to 2016 and they stood at more than £300 million, with that number heavily supported by Emirates alongside other airlines.

Furthermore, the first few flights out of Newcastle following the resumption in our services last month carried a lot of pharmaceutical goods and equipment – we had more than 18 tonnes on the first flight.

Air connectivity in the post-Brexit environment will be a crucial economic multiplier. The Government has been very open about its levelling-up agenda – which I think we play well with because we directly support the regions – and its ‘Global Britain’ aims too.

We are an island trading nation and competing on a global stage is therefore important, and we have a role to play through our Dubai hub and our global network, which includes excellent links from Newcastle, to support that.