Emirates has launched its new route to Glasgow this weekend. Coincidentally, a Scot - Captain Ken Gillespie - was at the controls. He completed the first daily air service from Dubai to Scotland when his Airbus A330-200 landed at Glasgow following a seven-hour flight.Capt Gillespie, 37, started his flying career at Glasgow airport 17 years ago and has worked for Emirates for almost seven years. His parents still live in the Glasgow area.
He said: “My usual flying schedule with Emirates takes me to all corners of the world - linking with different people and cultures. But it’s always special to come ‘home’, and an honour to lead our team on this special, first flight.”
The new two-class service, with 27 Business and 251 Economy seats, was completely full. Among those on board was Keith Longstaff, Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Europe.
The new route will provide Scottish customers with direct access to Dubai, one of the world’s most dynamic and fast emerging centres for tourism and commerce.
It will also provide onward access to Emirates’ fast-growing network now serving 76 cities in 53 countries, and putting destinations to the east of Scotland - including the Indian Ocean, Far East, Australia and New Zealand, as well as others in Africa—within easy reach for Scottish customers.
As the only longhaul service to head east from Scotland, it opens up a huge range of new opportunities for passengers and cargo shippers. People in Scotland will no longer have to travel via London or Europe to reach Dubai and places beyond.
The latest expansion of Emirates’ UK timetable raises the number of services offered by the airline between the UK and Dubai to 11 a day, or 77 flights a week. Emirates already offers four daily departures from Heathrow, three from Gatwick, two from Manchester and a daily service from Birmingham.
Mr Longstaff held a press conference at Glasgow International Airport with Patricia Ferguson MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business, Glasgow Airport Managing Director Stephen Baxter, Councillor Charles Gordon, leader of Glasgow City Council, and Councillor Jim Harkins, leader of Renfrewshire Council.
Mr Longstaff said: “We are confident that this new direct link to Dubai, the leading commercial centre in the Middle East, will be a major success, meeting the travel and transportation requirements of businesses and holidaymakers in Scotland, Dubai and other regions of the world.
“We thank those who have supported the launch - not least the Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow Airport, Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley Tourist Board and others within the local community. We look forward to their continuing support as we work to develop business between Scotland and Dubai.
“We feel the time and economic conditions are right for it to become a major success for Emirates and Scotland, with great potential for attracting inbound tourism and trade.”
Mr Baxter, MD of Glasgow Airport, which is backing the new service through BAA Scotland’s £95 million Route Development Fund, said: “We’re delighted to attract award-winning Emirates and are confident that the new route will be a real asset for Scotland’s business travellers, holidaymakers and tourist industry.”
“This reaffirms Glasgow Airport’s status as Scotland’s principal long haul gateway, and puts us on track for our most successful year ever. With the first direct link to the Gulf, and onward connections to more than 70 world-wide destinations, we are truly Scotland’s international airport.”
Councillor Gordon, leader of Glasgow City Council said: “This new routing is a terrific opportunity for the west of Scotland. Visitors from the Middle East, Far East and Australia will be brought directly into the region. This not only makes their journey easier, but it also presents local and regional businesses with the opportunity to develop their overseas markets. The long lasting result will be a significant contribution to the health of the local and regional economy.”
Renfrewshire Council Leader Jim Harkins said: “We’re delighted to welcome this direct link from Glasgow Airport to Dubai. The Renfrewshire economy has a strong track record in export performance and this new direct route can only assist that. It’s encouraging that the Scottish Executive’s Route Development Fund is supporting Emirates and I look forward to more direct flights from Glasgow airport to other destinations.”
Emirates first departure from Glasgow will be commanded by Captain Henry Abraham, who grew up in Scotland and has a Glaswegian father. Capt Abraham obtained his Pilots Licence at Turnhouse Flying Club, Edinburgh and has almost 18 years flying experience. He joined Emirates in 1995. On the first flight with him will be Scottish First Officer Chris Laird.
Emirates’ flight EK026 will leave Glasgow daily at 14:00hrs, arriving in Dubai at 00:30 the next day. The return flight EK025 will leave Dubai at 07:30hrs to reach Glasgow at 12:25 the same day. All times are local.