WELL-HEELED passengers are to be lured from across Scotland by free chauffeur-driven limos to the country’s first first-class flights from next month.
Emirates announced yesterday it would drive first-class passengers to Glasgow airport for the service to Dubai from up to 150 miles away – as far as Aberdeen and Inverness.
The move will coincide with flights being doubled to twice daily from 1 June, when aircraft on the route will have first-class seats – which can cost up to £2,600 one way – along with existing business and economy sections.
Emirates already provides free limo travel for business class passengers from up to 70 miles from Glasgow.
This has helped the airline attract passengers from the Edinburgh area since the route – which provides a popular one-stop link from Scotland to Asia and Australia – was launched in 2004. The new owners of Edinburgh airport are likely to make securing a route to a Middle East hub a priority, after Emirates doubles its Glasgow flights.
However, some aviation experts believe if another airline launched a Middle Eastern link from Edinburgh, Emirates would start a rival service from the airport to protect its share of the Scottish market.
Emirates UK vice-president Laurie Berryman said: “To ensure our premium passengers have a seamless journey from start to finish, we are one of the few airlines that offers a complimentary chauffeur-drive service.”
Experts said extending the limos reflected airlines’ keenness to reap more of the lucrative premium air market.
Dr Shuna Marr, a tourism lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “There has been a push towards increasing premium traffic across many airlines. Airlines operate on such slight margins, that are being increasingly eroded by rising fuel prices, that increasing their premium traffic has become essential.
“In offering limousine transfers for a radius of up to 150 miles, Emirates effectively have a catchment area of most of Scotland’s population to feed into their network.”
Laurie Price, director of aviation strategy at Mott MacDonald ITA, said: “This extension of their chauffeur drive service by Emirates will provide them with a significant competitive advantage to attract premium traffic that might otherwise have gone to London or a European hub airport.”
Analyst John Strickland, of JLS Consulting, said: “Emirates will see this investment as a means to ensure they take the largest share possible of the high-end premium market from Scotland.
“Adding a second daily flight and this type of product as well as offering Scotland to major Middle East and Asian markets on a one-stop basis puts them well ahead of their European competitors.”
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