If you’re hoping to deliver an ‘out of this world’ event, it always helps if an astronaut turns up.
Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers joined hundreds of guests including football stars, media celebrities, politicians and key travel industry figures to mark Emirates’ impending arrival in Amsterdam.
The venue for the high-profile Gala event was the Beurs van Berlage, a former commodity exchange and indicative of the trade Emirates will help support when passenger flights start on 1st May.
Dutch TV presenter Anouk Smulders was MC and saxophonist Candy Dulfer, who has worked with Prince and the Eurythmics, headed up a musical feast where foot-tapping was compulsory.
This, after an aerial act in which a giant globe was lowered above the audience - before opening to reveal a singer. Only a week earlier, the airline won an award at ITB in Berlin for its eye-catching and modified Emirates Globe stand.
Amongst the senior Emirates’ representatives at the 17th March Gala event were Richard Vaughan, Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Worldwide; Salem Obaidalla, Senior Vice President, Europe & Russian Federation and Jean-Luc Grillet, Manager France & Benelux.
The UAE Ambassador to the Netherlands, His Excellency Ali Thani Alsuwaidi, joined the Gala gathering, which served as an introduction to Emirates and Dubai.
Mr Vaughan said: “This tremendous event is a sure sign that the launch of our daily flight between Dubai and Amsterdam is edging closer. There is a long history of trade between The Netherlands and the Arab region. The Netherlands has become a significant trading partner for the UAE with business now running into billions of Euros a year. Emirates will provide a significant boost to commercial and tourism activity.”
In the presence of Dutch football stars like Patrick Kluivert and Pierre van Hooijdonk, the audience was reminded that Emirates is an official FIFA World Cup Partner, offering the three South African gateways of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
Some of Emirates’ 80-plus Dutch staff also travelled to Amsterdam for the Gala activities such as Pilot Jan Cocheret, cabin crew member Ellis Ofenhammer and Joost Heymeijer, General Manager of the Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia.
A big hit on the night was an Emirates’ First Class Private Suite, which had been shipped in especially for the event and was quickly overrun by fascinated experiementers.
Earlier in the day at Sofitel The Grand Amsterdam, Emirates held a press conference to explain the latest on preparations for the first flight - now just five weeks away. Ivo van der Vlis appeared on behalf of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Both venues were dressed with tulips, the much loved symbol of the Netherlands.
Mr Vaughan said: “Our daily service aboard our modern Boeing 777 aircraft will bring a truly exceptional product to the Netherlands. Emirates will be the only carrier offering a First Class cabin on this route and via Dubai, passengers can easily reach popular destinations such as South Africa, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Maldives.”
Boasting a fleet of 145 aircraft, including eight A380 superjumbos and a network spanning more than 100 destinations, the carrier will launch Amsterdam as its 23rd point in Europe.
The flight timings from 1st May will see EK flight 145 leave Dubai daily at 0825hrs and arrive in Amsterdam at 1330hrs. From Amsterdam, EK 146 departs at 1530hrs, arriving in Dubai at 2359hrs. Emirates SkyCargo has been serving Amsterdam with freighters for 15 years.
The airline has announced four other new passenger routes so far this year: Tokyo from 28th March, Prague on 1st July, Madrid as of 1st August and Dakar from 1st September.