Airline price war heats up

I predicted many months ago that the arrival of Virgin Atlantic in Dubai would lead to a price war. And that’s exactly what has happened, with both Virgin and arch rival Emirates Airline both going to unprecedented levels in order to capture more of the lucrative Dubai-London route.

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By  Ben Dawson Published  September 17, 2006

|~||~||~|I predicted many months ago that the arrival of Virgin Atlantic in Dubai would lead to a price war. And that’s exactly what has happened, with both Virgin and arch rival Emirates Airline both going to unprecedented levels in order to capture more of the lucrative Dubai-London route. And the battle is only beginning: I can exclusively reveal that last night, Virgin Atlantic chief executive officer Steve Ridgeway flew into Dubai, and met his airline’s regional executives at the Shangri-La hotel. Over dinner, they are thought to have come up with several new pricing deals, which will kick in later this year – most probably from November 1st. But already the effects can be felt. Usually, Emirates charges over US$1000 for a Dubai to London return. This week the price is down to the US$800 mark. Virgin Atlantic has gone even lower, with its prices just over US$700 per ticket. Virgin’s Premium Economy prices on the route, meanwhile, have been slashed to just over US$1000. Where will it all end? According to my source at Virgin, not here. “This is just the beginning. I think price wise both Virgin and Emirates have gone just about as low as is possible. The next battle ground will be on products.” Rumours are rife that Virgin may introduce a limousine service for economy passengers. We shall see… Stadium woes Talking of Emirates Airline, executives there are become increasingly concerned over the US$180m deal with Arsenal to sponsor the team and name their new stadium Emirates Stadium. Let me be clear: this is one of the greatest soccer sponsorship deals ever (in my view) and everyone involved in it at Emirates deserves full credit. Unfortunately, since wearing the “Fly Emirates” shirts and moving to Emirates Stadium, Arsenal have slumped to fourth from bottom of the Premiership – their worst position in 60 years. As a big Arsenal fan, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we, like Emirates Airline, hit the dizzy heights. The Jones one You may recall that earlier this year, The One founder Thomas Lundgren agreed to sponsor Dubai’s Robbie Williams concert. It was a huge success, and clearly it got Lundgren hungry for more pop action. I am told that the highly skilled Lundgren was initially in talks with the promoters of Irish rock band U2, with the aim of bringing them to Dubai next March. This has gone nowhere fast. But don’t worry. My spies tell me that Lundgren’s people are in advanced talks to bring – wait for it – Tom Jones – to Dubai next March. Tom Jones is of course (in my view) the greatest entertainer on the planet, and his appearance is Dubai would be nothing short of spectacular. Watch this space for more details, which may come out next week.||**||

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