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Emirates comes of age

Dubai-based Emirates Airline has marked its
20th anniversary of successful operations with it’s Chairman, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum outlining the key factors in the company’s development. “There’s a
sense that the airline has ‘come of age’ and with its solid grounding, is
ready to take on even bigger challenges as a leading player in global air
transport.” commented Sheikh Ahmed.

Carrying some 12.5 million passengers and 838,000 tonnes of cargo last year,
Emirates is the world’s second most profitable and one of the 20 largest
international carriers*. The airline has come a long way since 1985 when it
had just three flights from Dubai - to Karachi, Mumbai and Delhi - operated
by two leased aircraft.


Today, Emirates operates close to 200 scheduled flights per day around its
network which covers 77 cities in 54 countries - an average of one flight
taking off or landing every eight minutes.



Sheikh Ahmed said: “The springboard for our success has been the vision and
ambition of HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Since its
inception, Emirates has experienced tremendous and consistent growth
averaging over 20 percent per year. In the past 20 years, we have flown more
than 80 million passengers to their destinations, carried over 4.6 million
tonnes of cargo, and as a group, contributed some US$25 billion in both
direct and indirect expenditure to the UAE economy.


“From the outset, our vision was to develop an international airline that
maximised Dubai’s geo-strategic location to connect people and cargo to
their destinations quickly and conveniently. We are proud to have lived up
to that goal, and we will continue to play our part in developing Dubai as a
hub for air transport, tourism and commerce.”


Financially self-sustained and unprotected, Emirates has consistently bucked
industry trends to post record profits for the past 17 years. It is also
investing in future growth with firm orders for 92 new wide-bodied aircraft
including 45 super-jumbo Airbus A380s.


Sheikh Ahmed credited the airline’s performance to having a strong customer
focus; a solid long-term strategy supported by a steady management team;
talented staff recruited from over 100 countries around the world; and a
dynamic corporate culture that encourages innovation.


He added: “Our success is also intrinsically linked with Dubai. We are lucky
to be based here, where a visionary government is investing billions of
dollars to develop the city into a major centre for commerce and tourism.
Dubai grows at around 17 percent annually, and by 2010 it expects to have
five million residents and some 15 million visitors. Emirates needs to be
ready to support and tap into this growth, and that is why we are investing
heavily in our fleet, in technology and support infrastructure, as well as
in recruiting and training the right people.”


By 2012, Emirates expects to carry 33 million passengers annually on some
150 aircraft. To support its fast-expanding fleet, which increases by one
new aircraft per month on average, Emirates is constructing a US$353 million
engineering centre and a new jet engine testing facility. When completed
next year, Emirates’ engineering centre will be one of the biggest civil
aviation maintenance facilities in the world with eight hangars fully
equipped to handle heavy and light maintenance for the airline’s entire
fleet including the soon-to-be-delivered A380.


Sheikh Ahmed said: “The future looks bright for Emirates, with opportunities
brought about by Dubai’s development as well as the steady growth in demand
for air travel globally. We will continue to focus on innovation, quality
and customer service; expand and strengthen our network to provide more air
connections that will facilitate trade and tourism flows; and invest in
advanced aircraft which are not only efficient to operate but will also
allow our passengers to travel further, in great comfort.”