This year the Dubai-based international carrier will add a record 11 new aircraft to its fleet and increase seating capacity by 25%, allowing it to start four new routes, add more flights on many current routes and launch radically new inflight services and products.
Daily nonstop Emirates flights from Dubai to Sydney start from 26th October with the first deliveries of a brand new aircraft, the ultra long-range Airbus A340-500.
This will cut travel time to Australia`s major city considerably, not only from the UAE but from gateways in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
That same day, 26th October, Emirates will launch daily wide-bodied Boeing 777-300 services to Brisbane via Singapore, giving it its fourth Australian route after Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Sheikh Ahmed said Emirates plans to start services to Moscow from 1st July, to Shanghai from 2nd August and to Lagos (subject to government approval) from 1st December.
And next year it will take the final giant step forward in its global expansion by launching services to North America. Airbus A340-500s will start non-stop flights to New York from April 1st, 2004 and to San Francisco from summer 2004.
From this autumn, the first A340-500s will also serve Osaka, Japan four times a week and will allow Emirates to serve London Gatwick three times a day.
For the past three years Emirates has worked on a secret project to develop revolutionary new First Class seats. Details are only now starting to emerge, but they “will re-benchmark industry standards,” appearing on Emirates’ A340-500s from September.
Business Class seats on these aircraft will also be greatly improved, and inflight entertainment in every cabin on the A340-500 will undergo a major upgrade, in Economy as well as in First and Business Class.
Customers will be entertained with a sophisticated Video On Demand system with a choice of 150 films and 100 audio channels, with more details due to be revealed soon.
In a total revision of its current timetable, Emirates will start double daily services from Dubai to Munich from 31st March, to Tehran from 1st May, to Manchester from 1st June, to Muscat from 1st July, and to Hong Kong from 26th October.
Among many other frequency increases are three extra flights to Nairobi, Kenya from 30th March, bringing the total to 10 a week and rising to double-daily by 1st July. Many other destinations will also enjoy extra flights.
Sheikh Ahmed said: “Today’s news is merely the first stage of a major make-over for the entire airline to ensure we keep our customers coming back to us again and again. We will have a fleet of 56 aircraft by 31st March 2004, a dedicated Emirates terminal at Dubai International Airport opens in 2005 and the first of our 22 double-decker A380s arrives in 2006. We have won more than 200 major awards - and are resolved to win many more”.
Emirates, founded as recently as 1985, has grown at an unprecedented rate, and is now among the world`s six most profitable and 20 largest international airlines.