Why does it cost £7 more to fly to Dubai than to Kuala Lumpur?

Travel Q&A

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The Independent Travel

Q. Can you please explain why a business-class flight from Gatwick to Dubai costs £7 more than a flight from Gatwick to Kuala Lumpur via Dubai, using exactly the same flights on the first bit? I have checked a departure from Gatwick on 26 February on Emirates: to Dubai £1,955 and to KL £1,948. This seems illogical, based on distance. Anne Simpson

A. Air fares, like other prices, are subject to supply and demand. In the case of London-Dubai (two of the most important cities in aviation) there is strong demand for a premium experience on a non-stop flight. That is why Emirates, along with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, is able to command a fare of close to £2,000 return.

To reach Kuala Lumpur there is currently only one non-stop carrier (Malaysia Airlines), but a host of connecting options, of which Emirates is merely one. The other Gulf carriers have strong offers, as do European carriers such as KLM.

Once you add in China Southern via Guangzhou and SriLankan via Colombo, you can see what a competitive market it is. In order to fill its aircraft, Emirates has to trim its fares accordingly – which could mean less than the rate for Dubai alone. That might sound odd, because it would surely be better for Emirates to sell all its seats from Gatwick at the higher, Dubai-only fare. But like every network airline, Emirates knows that only a certain number of bookings will be "point to point", and it therefore discounts on routes via Dubai to more distant destinations to attract business.

But there is a much cheaper, high-quality business-class alternative to reach Dubai if you fly from Heathrow. Etihad will take you to its hub, Abu Dhabi, then put you on a bus for the short journey to Dubai – for around £600 less than the Emirates option.