Brands X-RAY

Airlines’ battle for Dubai heats up as Emirates returns to Nigeria

The competition for share of voice, share of mind and share of pocket takes a class turn 

Emirates, “the king of the Dubai route” is finally back in Nigeria after months of political eye-balling and brinkmanship between Nigeria and UAE.

Emirates  will resume its passenger operations between Dubai and Nigeria from 5 December 2021, offering customers enhanced connectivity to and through Dubai from Lagos and Abuja.

The world’s largest international airline will operate to and from its Nigerian gateways with daily flights, providing travellers from Nigeria convenient access to Dubai, which remains a highly popular holiday and business destination. It’ll also enable travellers to safely connect via Dubai to the Emirates network of over 120 global destinations.

Analysis of Emirates’ competitors and their marketing strategies 

Emirates returns to Nigeria

The jostling for position, share of voice and share of mind for the lucrative Dubai route is intense.

Though Emirates has raced ahead of the pack, it has several high fliers nibbling at its wings.


Qatar is probably the closest rival to Emirates for the Dubai market. It is based in the same geographical region as Emirates, it embarks upon high profile sports sponsorship and it also tries to appeal to status-conscious, upper class Nigerian travelers.


Emirates returns to Nigeria

Etihad is comparable to Qatar in many ways and therefore also represents a strong competition to Emirates, but does not have the same clout.

Ethiopian Airlines

Emirates returns to Nigeria

Ethiopian Airlines is another competitor that cannot be ignored. Whilst Emirates rides on the strength of its pedigree, formidable brand equity  and elite profile, Ethiopian applies a penetration price strategy.

“Penetration pricing is a pricing strategy where the price of a product is initially set low to rapidly reach a wide fraction of the market and initiate word of mouth. The strategy works on the expectation that customers will switch to the new brand because of the lower price.“

Air Peace- “made in Nigeria”

Also fighting for a piece of the Dubai pie is the indigenous carrier, Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest airline. It recently announced that it would resume flight operations to Dubai via Sharjah.

Air Peace also uses the penetration price strategy. But it plays more on nationalism and indigenous sentiments, appealing to Nigerians to fly their own. Whether that card will resonate with the brand-conscious Nigerian market remains to be seen.

What next?

Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on the travel industry and has reshaped the market to a large extent. Recovery was already in the horizon until another new Covid variant showed up suddenly.

For now, Nigerians are delighted that with the return of Emirates,  they now have the fullest range of options of reaching  their favourite Dubai shopping destination.

The major players on the Dubai route will also deploy all their creative PR and marketing arsenal to defend their airline’s market share.


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