EMIRATES has a new twist on marketing during a recession – raise prices while everybody else is discounting. The Middle Eastern carrier is hiking its published fares by 7% from Thursday, urging consumers to ‘book now beat the price rise’. Emirates management probably figures it has nothing to lose, since discounting wasn’t working anyway. According to government stats, the carrier had a seat load factor of just 62% on the Australia to London route during April, well behind Qantas (89%), British Airways (86%), Virgin Atlantic (73%) and Etihad (66%). Given that there’s little difference between these carriers, and Emirates does not have the parochial pull for Aussies and Brits of Qantas, BA and Virgin, it leaves Emirates as the most expensive carrier on a very competitive route. It’s a strange place for them to be. Bet it won’t last. There’s a real chance the new, higher published fares will become simply become a new benchmark from which to discount.