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Emirates Airline

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Emirates Airline

Emirates Airline
Founded 1985
Commenced operations 25 October 1985 (1985-10-25)
Hubs Dubai International Airport [A]
Frequent-flyer program Skywards
Airport lounge Emirates Lounge
Fleet size 207
Destinations 161[1]
Company slogan

Fly Emirates, Hello Tomorrow
Fly Emirates. Keep Discovering (old slogan)
Fly Emirates. To over 100 destinations

Fly Emirates, in six continents
Parent company The Emirates Group
Headquarters Garhoud, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Key people

Emirates (Arabic: طَيَران الإماراتDMG: Ṭayarān Al-Imārāt) is an airline based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The airline is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, which is wholly owned by the government of Dubai's Investment Corporation of Dubai.[2] It is the largest airline in the Middle East, operating nearly 3,400 flights per week[3][4] from its hub at Dubai International Airport, to more than 150 cities in 74 countries across six continents.[5] Cargo activities are undertaken by the Emirates Group's Emirates SkyCargo division.[6]

The airline ranks among the top 10 carriers worldwide in terms of passenger kilometres, and has become the largest airline in the Middle East in terms of revenue, fleet size, and passengers carried as of 2007.[7] In 2012 the airline was the fourth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried,[8] and the fourth-largest in the world in terms of scheduled passenger-kilometres flown.[9] The airline was also the third-largest in terms of scheduled freight tonne-kilometres flown.[10] The company also operates four of the world's longest non-stop commercial flights from Dubai to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston.[11][12][13]

During the mid-1980s, Gulf Air began to cut back its services to Dubai. As a result Emirates was conceived in March 1985 with backing from Dubai's royal family, with Pakistan International Airlines providing two of the airline's first aircraft on wet-lease. It was required to operate independent of government subsidies, apart from $10 million in start-up capital. The airline became headed by Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the airline's present chairman. In the years following its founding, the airline expanded both its fleet and its destinations. In October 2008, Emirates moved all operations at Dubai International Airport to Terminal 3 to sustain its rapid expansion and growth plans.[14]

Emirates operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft and is one of the few airlines to operate an all-wide-body aircraft fleet, at the centre of which is the Boeing 777. Emirates also has orders for 90 Airbus A380s and became the second operator of the type after Singapore Airlines. Emirates is an industry bellwether for aircraft purchases, having purchased 130 aircraft in 2007 alone.[15]

Emirates has built up a strong brand name as a leader in the aviation industry, particularly in terms of service excellence, and its very rapid growth, coupled with consistent profitability. Emirates has won numerous awards – it was ranked 8th by Air Transport World for "Airline of the Year" in 2012. The award has been given based on recognition of its commitment to safety and operational excellence, customer service trendsetters, financial condition including a 25-year consecutive annual profit.[16] Emirates is rated as a four-star airline by aviation consultancy group Skytrax. The airline was voted Airline of the Year in 2013.[17]


Origins: 1985–1992

An Emirates Airbus A300, one of the airline's first aircraft (1995)
The Airbus A310 was Emirates' first new-build aircraft

During the mid-1980s, Gulf Air began to cut back its services to Dubai as it was concerned it was providing regional feeder flights for other carriers.[18] As a result Emirates was conceived in March 1985 with backing from Dubai's royal family, and was required to operate independent of government subsidies, apart from US$10 million in start-up capital. In mid-1980s, Pakistan International Airlines played a large role in establishing the Emirates airline. First by leasing two of its airplanes – Airbus 300 and Boeing 737 – as well as providing technical and administrative assistance to the new carrier. Also Emirates leased a new Boeing 737–300 and an Airbus 300B4-200,[19] both from Pakistan International Airlines.[20] The Royal Family's Dubai Royal Air Wing also provided the airline with two used Boeing 727–200 Adv.[21] The airline's first flight, flight EK600, was Dubai–Karachi on 25 October 1985.[21][22]

Maurice Flanagan, who previously worked at British Airways, Gulf Air, and BOAC and at the time was overseeing Dnata, was appointed chief executive officer of the new airline.[18] To acknowledge his services for aviation, in 2000, Flanagan was made CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honour List, and later honoured with knighthood. He would be joined at the airline by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum (as chairman) and now-Emirates president Tim Clark. Current chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum has since inherited the role of CEO. During its first year, it carried about 260,000 passengers and 10,000 tons of freight.[23] To highlight the airline's early success, Gulf Air, during Emirates' first year of operations, suffered a 56% drop in profits, and a loss the following year.[23]

By 1986, the airline had added new destinations such as Colombo, Dhaka, Amman and Cairo to its route network.[21] In 1987 a second Boeing 727 was purchased from the Dubai Government and an A300 was temporarily replaced by a second example from Kuwait Airlines. On 3 July, Emirates received its first bought aircraft, an Airbus A310 (registration A6-EKA),[21] and with two examples, launched daily non-stop services to London Gatwick on 6 July 1987. The airline in 1987 added Frankfurt via Istanbul, and Malé (Maldive).[23] By the end of 1987, Emirates was serving 11 destinations. This was followed by an expansion into the Far East market in 1985, with flights to Bangkok, Manila and Singapore,[21] and Hong Kong in 1991.[23] During the first decade of operations, Emirates recorded strong growths averaging 30%.[18]

Incorporation and growth: 1993–1999

By the early 1990s, Emirates was among the world's fastest growing airlines; revenue increased approximately US$100 million each year, approaching US$500 million in the year 1993. The airline carried 1.6 million passengers and 68,000 tons of cargo and in the same year, respectively.[23]

With the advent of the Gulf War, business increased for Emirates as the war kept other airlines out of the area; it was the only airline to continue flying in the last ten days of the war.[23] Following the conflicts, a total of 92 air carriers were flying to markets internationally and Emirates faced intense competition at its home base. It carried about three million passengers a year to Dubai International Airport in the mid-1990s. Emirates continued to expand during the late 1990s. The growing cargo business accounted for 16 percent of the airline's total revenues.

Emirates started offering round-the-world services from autumn 1993, after a partnership was established with US Airways.[23] It previously had co-operation agreements with Cyprus Airways.[23]

By 1995, the airline expanded the fleet to six Airbus A300s and eight Airbus A310s and built the network up to cover 37 destinations in 30 countries. Then by 1996, the airline received its first Boeing 777–200 aircraft, and these were followed shortly afterwards by six Boeing 777-200ERs. The arrival of the 777 allowed Emirates to continue its Singapore service onwards to Melbourne commencing in 1996 which would become a very profitable route for Emirates and would see more new destinations added in Australia. In 1998 Emirates Sky Cargo was launched. Although the Emirates had always provided a cargo service using capacity within its passenger aircraft this was now expanded with an aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance lease agreed with Atlas Air initially for a single Boeing 747–200 freighter.[25]

In May 1998, Emirates paid the Government of Sri Lanka US$70 million for a 43.6% stake in SriLankan Airlines (then known as Air Lanka).[26] As part of the deal, Emirates received a 10-year contract to manage SriLankan.[27] In January 2008, Emirates announced that it would end the management contract, effective April 2008.[27][28] Emirates subsequently sold its stake in the airline to the Government of Sri Lanka, in an estimated US$150 million[26] deal that was finalised in 2010, thus ending any affiliation the two airlines had with each other.[29]

Modern history: 2000–present

In 2000, Emirates made an order for twenty five Boeing 777-300s, eight Airbus A340-600s, three Airbus A330-200s and twenty-two of the double deck A3XXs (later renamed A380). Towards the end of the year, Emirates was planning to start long-haul services to the East Coast and West Coast of the United States, as well as non-stop flights to Australia and Brazil. During 2002, Emirates passenger figures increased 18% to over 6.8 million against the previous year.[30]

The financial year 2001–02 would prove to be a very difficult year for Emirates and one of the toughest for the airline. Initially sales were affected by a recession and later influenced by the bombing of Colombo Airport. The bombing destroyed three of SriLankan Airlines' twelve aircraft and also damaged three other aircraft. A few months later, the September 11 attacks in New York saw thousands of cancellations and deferments of travel plans. Emirates needed to find funds for a spike in its multi-billion dollar insurance cover due to the events. Seat factors fell considerably and profitability disappeared. The airline announced a recruitment freeze, but did not make any redundancies. The airline also reduced flight frequencies to other destinations. The unstable situation in the region, however, benefited Emirates as international airlines cut flights to Dubai and lowering competition.[31]

At the 2003 Paris Air Show, Emirates signed an order for 71 aircraft at a cost of US$19 billion. The order included firm purchase orders for a further 21 Airbus A380-800s and lease orders for two A380-800s. Emirates also announced operating lease orders for 26 Boeing 777-300ERs.[32]

In 2004, Emirates began flying non-stop to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport using their new Airbus A340-500. These flights meant the resumption of non-stop air services between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, after Delta Air Lines's flights since 2001, terminated later[33][34] and restarted again in 2007. In the same year, Emirates signed a £100 million deal with English Premier League football team Arsenal, which includes naming rights to its new stadium for 15 years and shirt sponsorship for eight years, starting from the 2006/07 season. In 2005, Emirates ordered 42 Boeing 777s in a deal worth $9.7 billion, the largest Boeing 777 order in history.[35]

Emirates has been steadily capturing the traffic from South Asia to North America, allowing passengers to bypass the traditional hubs of London Heathrow, Frankfurt Airport, and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport; the home bases of British Airways, Lufthansa, and Air France, respectively, with a transit stop at Dubai International Airport instead. South Asia has remained an important region for the Emirates network. Pakistan was the first country to receive flights and since then, Emirates operates to 4 destinations in the country.[36] India was the second country to receive flights from Emirates, and continues to expand an extensive network in India. Emirates is the largest airline operating internationally in India and operates over 185 flights a week across 10 cities.[37] Similarly, Emirates competes with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International, Middle Eastern rivals Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, and other airlines on the lucrative London to Sydney Kangaroo Route.[38]

In 2007, Emirates made an order worth over $34.9 billion, at the Dubai Air Show. The airline signed contracts for 120 Airbus A350s, 11 A380s and 12 Boeing 777-300ERs.[39] By opening flights to São Paulo in 2007, Emirates began the first non-stop flight between the Middle East and South America;[40] it also began operations of its $120 million Flight Catering Centre at Dubai Airport.[41]

In 2009, Emirates became the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777 with the delivery of the 78th plane.[42] In 2010, at the Farnborough Airshow, the airline placed an order for 30 Boeing 777s, worth $9.1 billion, bringing total spending for aircraft in the year to over $25 billion.[24] In 2011, at the Dubai Airshow, Emirates placed another order for another 50 777s, worth about $18 billion.[43]

The growth of Emirates has drawn a lot of criticism form carriers like Lufthansa and Air Canada, who claim Emirates has unfair advantages. Lufthansa has continuously lobbied the German government to limit the expansion of Emirates into Germany, and hasn't allowed Emirates to begin operations to Berlin and Stuttgart since 2004.[44] Similarly, Air Canada has objected to any expansion into Canada from Emirates. The dispute has received attention from the governments of the UAE and Canada and despite many discussions from both governments, Emirates has not been given more landing rights in Canada, and has been denied expansion to Calgary and Vancouver.[45]

On 6 September 2012, it was announced that Emirates and Qantas had signed a 10-year agreement to set up a major alliance, which would see Qantas move its hub for its European flights from Singapore to Dubai Airport and would see Qantas end its existing 17-year revenue-sharing agreement with British Airways on the services between Australia and Britain. Emirates will also seek to use the alliance to increase the number of its passengers flying on its routes to other European destinations, and Emirates passengers will also be able to use the Qantas’ Australian domestic network of more than 50 destinations. Qantas will fly daily Airbus A380 services from both Sydney and Melbourne to London via Dubai, meaning that together the two airlines will be providing 98 weekly flights between Australia and the Emirates hub. It will also result in Qantas becoming the only other airline operating at Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport. The airlines will align their frequent-flyer programs and Emirates will add a new level to match the Qantas platinum level.[46][47][48] As of August 2013, the partnership between the two airlines includes code-sharing, aligned fares and frequent flyer benefits for passengers, as well as the latest opening of a joint New Zealand network on August 14.[49]

Airbus A380

Emirates announced an order in April 2000 for the Airbus A3XX (later named Airbus A380), the largest civil aircraft ever built. The deal consisted of five Airbus A380s and two Airbus A380Fs. The deal was confirmed on 4 November 2001, when Emirates announced orders for 15 more A380-800s. An additional order 21 A380-800s was placed two years later. In April 2006, Emirates replaced its order for the two variants with an order for two A380-800s. In 2007, Emirates ordered 15 A380-800s, bringing the total number ordered to 58.[50] According to Emirates, the aircraft would allow the airline to maximize its use of scarce takeoff and landing slots at crowded airports such as London Heathrow. In 2005, the first A380-800 in full Emirates livery was displayed at the Dubai Airshow.[51]

On 20 November 2005, Emirates ordered 42 Boeing 777s, to help with its expansion. This order came one day after Airbus announced that the A380-800 would be delayed by another six months.[52] A third delay was announced on 3 October 2006, pushing the initial delivery of the first A380-800 to October 2007.[53] The announcement was met with anger by Emirates' President Tim Clark, who threatened to cancel their Airbus order as it was affecting the airline's expansion plan, saying that "It's very serious. This will do us serious damage."[54] In total as of April 2008, Airbus paid as much as $110 million during 2007 in compensation for the late delivery of the A380-800 to Emirates for the delays.[55] During the same year, on 1 August, Emirates flew its first A380-800 flight, from Dubai to New York City.[56][57]

In February 2009, Emirates raised many issues concerning its A380.[58][59] Emirates informed Airbus officials about heat-damaged power cables, defective engines and numerous malfunctions, many reportedly caused by the two showers installed in the aircraft.[60][61][62]

At the 2010 Berlin Air Show, Emirates ordered an additional 32 A380s worth US$11.5 billion.[63][64] Emirates expected all of its 90 A380s ordered to be delivered by 2017. None of the additional 32 jets are intended to replace existing A380s; although Emirates received its first A380 in 2008, it does not expect to retire these early airframes before 2020.[65]

Emirates aims to operate over 120 Airbus A380s when new airport space is available. The target implies a future Emirates order for 30 of the world's largest airliner, worth US$10 billion at list prices, at an unspecified date. If the airline went ahead with its growth plans it would have an A380 fleet worth over US$40 billion.[66][67]

As of 2013, Emirates used their A380s on flights to New York-JFK, London-Heathrow, Sydney, Auckland, Bangkok, Toronto, Paris-CDG, Seoul-Incheon, Jeddah, Beijing–Capital, Manchester, Hong Kong, Shanghai-Pudong, Johannesburg, Munich, Rome, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Singapore, Moscow-Domodedovo, Brisbane, and Los Angeles(from 2 December 2013).[68]

As of March 2012, 6 of Emirates' 21 A380s are out for repairs, costing the airline revenue loss of $90 million.[69]

Terminal 3

Main article: Dubai International Airport Terminal 3
External video
A promotional video used by Emirates on Terminal 3

Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3 was built exclusively for the use of Emirates at a cost of $4.5 billion and officially opened 14 October 2008. Terminal 3 is the second largest building in the world by floor space, with over 1,713,000 m2 (423 acres) of space. The Terminal has annual capacity of 43 million passengers.[70] The new concourse 3 opened on 2 January 2013 and is built exclusively for the A380-800.[71][72][73]

In May 2011, Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports revealed that Emirates will eventually take over the operation of Concourse 1, along with Concourses 2 and 3 which it will already be operating in 2018.[74]

Corporate management

The airline is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, which itself is a subsidiary of the Dubai government's investment company, Investment Corporation of Dubai.[75][76][77] The airline has recorded a profit every year, except the second, and growth has never fallen below 20% a year. In its first 11 years, it doubled in size every 3.5 years, and has every four years since.[78]

In 2010 Emirates paid dividends worth AED956 million (US$260 million), compared to AED2.9 billion (US$793 million) in 2009.[79] The government has received Dhs7.1 billion from Emirates since dividends started being paid in 1999 for having provided an initial start-up capital of US$10 million and an additional investment of about US$80 million at the time of the airline's inception,[80] the Dubai government is the sole owner of the company. However, it does not put any new money into it, nor does it interfere with running the airline.[78]

Structure and employment

Main article: Emirates subsidiaries

Emirates has diversified into related industries and sectors, including airport services, engineering, hospitality services, catering, and tour operator operations. Emirates has seven subsidiaries and its parent company has more than 50.[81][82] The company employed a total of 38,797 staff at the end of the fiscal year on 31 March 2011.[83] Its parent company, The Emirates Group, employed a total of 49,950 employees of which 10,785 were cabin crew, 2,237 were flight deck crew, 1,904 were in engineering, and 9,084 were listed as other.[84]

The primary focus for Emirates and its employees is to deliver superior customer service. In turn, Emirates provides its employees with benefits such as comprehensive health plans and paid maternity and sick leave. Another strategy employed by Emirates is to use profit sharing and merit pay as part of their competency based approach to performance management.[85]

Environmental record

The airline claims to have lower emissions than other airlines due to its fleet which has an average fuel burn of less than four litres for every 100 passenger kilometres it flies.[86] The cargo division of the airline uses a similar hub-and-spoke network of operations.

Fleet efficiency

  • Emirates has stated that its versions of the A380-800 will offer fuel economy of 3.1 litres per 100 passenger km. Emirates A380-800s also feature the Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, which save 500,000 litres of fuel per aircraft per year.[87]
  • The company uses a program called "Flextracks". The technology is used to plan and optimize routes efficiency and load factor. Passenger load factors were 81.2% in the 6 months to September 2010.[88]
  • Emirates has invested in a program called "tailored arrivals". This allows air traffic control to uplink to aircraft en route. It first determines the speed and flight profile from the air onto the runway, this allows the crew to accept and fly a continuous descent profile, saving fuel and emissions.[89]

Financial and operational performance

In the financial year 2011–12, Emirates generated revenues of around AED 62 billion, which represented an increase of approximately 15% over the previous year's revenues of AED 54 billion. Passenger numbers also increased from over 31 million to around 34 million over the same period representing an increase of around 8%. In the financial year 2009–2010, passenger numbers reached 27.4 million,[83] up from 22.7 million reported in 2008–09 representing an increase of 20.1% over the previous year. Cargo carried in 2009–10 also improved, by 12.2% to 1,580,000 tonnes (2008–09: 1,408,000 tonnes).[90] The airline's profits for the 2009/10 fiscal year rose by more than fourfold to AED 3,538 million ($964 million) up by AED 2,852 million (2008–09: AED 686 million) on the back of cost cutting and a nearly 21 percent rise in passengers.[91] Its parent company saw profit up 248% for to $1.1 billion for the year to 31 March compared with a $406m profit for the previous year.[92][93][94] The airline claims it pays market rates for its fuel, contrary to common belief, however it has a highly successful fuel-price-hedging program.[85]

As of March 2012, Emirates did not use fuel price hedging. Fuel was 45% of total costs, and may come to $1.7 billion in the year ending 31 March 2012.[69]

The airline was the seventh-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried,[95] and the largest[96] in the world in terms of scheduled international passenger-kilometers flown. It is also the seventh-largest in terms of scheduled freight tonne-kilometres flown (sixth in scheduled international freight tonne-kilometres flown).[97]

Emirates Financial and Operational Performance[D][98][99]
Year Ended Passengers Flown (thousand) Cargo carried (thousand) Turnover (AEDm) Expenditure (AEDm) Net Profit(+)/Loss(-) (AEDm)
31 March 1997 Increase3,114.3 Increase159.4 Increase1,198.7 Increase1,097.1 Increase(+)101.623
31 March 1998 Increase3,683.4 Increase200.1 Increase4,089.1 Increase3,826.7 Increase(+)262.413
31 March 1999 Increase4,252.7 Increase214.2 Increase4,442.9 Increase4,130.2 Increase(+)312.959
31 March 2000 Increase4,775.4 Increase269.9 Increase5,113.8 Increase4,812.9 Decrease(+)300.900
31 March 2001 Increase5,719 Increase335 Increase6,359 Increase5,693 Increase(+)666
31 March 2002 Increase6,765 Increase401 Increase7,137 Increase6,511 Decrease(+)626
31 March 2003 Increase8,503 Increase525 Increase9,514 Increase8,513 Increase(+)1,001
31 March 2004 Increase10,441 Increase660 Increase13,116 Increase11,368 Increase(+)1,749
31 March 2005 Increase12,529 Increase838 Increase17,909 Increase15,290 Increase(+)2,619
31 March 2006 Increase14,498 Increase1,019 Increase22,658 Increase20,006 Increase(+)2,652
31 March 2007 Increase17,544 Increase1,156 Increase29,173 Increase25,834 Increase(+)3,339
31 March 2008 Increase21,229 Increase1,282 Increase38,810 Increase34,359 Increase(+)4,451
31 March 2009 Increase22,731 Increase1,408 Increase43,266 Increase40,988 Decrease(+)2,278
31 March 2010 Increase27,454 Increase1,580 Increase43,455 Decrease39,890 Increase(+)3,565
31 March 2011 Increase31,422 Increase1,767 Increase54,231 Increase48,788 Increase(+)5,443
31 March 2012 Increase33,981 Increase1,796 Increase62,287 Increase60,474 Decrease(+)1,813
31 March 2013 Increase39,391 Increase2,086 Increase73,113 Increase70,274 Increase(+)2,839


From 2004, the airline changed its slogan to Fly Emirates. Keep Discovering In 2008, Emirates launched a slogan mainly revolving around their route network of 100 destinations in 59+ countries across six continents – Fly Emirates. Keep Discovering and Fly Emirates. To over Six Continents.[100] Most recently Emirates launched a campaign to promote Dubai as a destination using the slogan Fly Emirates. Meet Dubai.

Other slogans used in the past by the airline include:

  • Emirates. The Finest in the Sky
  • Be Good to yourself. Fly Emirates
  • When was the last time you did something for the first time. Fly Emirates.
  • Fly Emirates. Keep Discovering
  • Hello Tomorrow

Emirates introduced a new design in August 2008 for its 16,000 uniformed staff, designed by Simon Jersey plc. The offboard uniform includes the Emirates hat, red kick-pleats in the skirts, more fitted blouses and the return of red leather shoes and handbags. For the onboard uniform, male and female cabin crew wear service waistcoats in place of the previously worn service jackets and tabards. The male flight attendants wear a chocolate brown suit, featuring pinstripes, with a cream shirt and a caramel, honey and red tie. Both male and female Pursers wear this chocolate brown color, but with no red featured.[101]

Since its formation in 1985, though to a limited extent until all aircraft were repainted, Emirates aeroplanes carried a section of the United Arab Emirates flag on the tail fins, a calligraphy of the logo in Arabic on the engines and the "Emirates" logo on the fuselage both in Arabic and English. The colour scheme used since 1985 was changed in November 1999 to the one still in use today. This change saw the modification of logotype, the enlargement and move of the English logo (the Arabic remaining smaller) towards the front of the aircraft and a different, flowing flag on the tailfin.[102] Some newer aircraft such as the Airbus A380-800, have the Emirates logo painted on the belly of the aircraft. Emirates aircraft also have the FIFA World Cup logo on them, as Emirates is the official airline sponsor. [103]

In cricket, Emirates sponsors Cricket Australia,[104] Lord's Taverners,[105] and Pro Arch Tournament.[106] Their branding also features on international cricket umpires shirts.[107] Emirates has also become an official partner of the International Cricket Council until 2015. This deal gives Emirates association with all major ICC tournaments, including the 2011 and 2015 ICC Cricket World Cups, ICC Champions Trophy and ICC World Twenty20.[108] Emirates are the Twenty20 shirt sponsor of Durham County Cricket Club and hold the naming rights to the Riverside Ground now known as Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground, the Dubai International Racing Carnival, Melbourne Cup Carnival, and the Australian Jockey Club's Autumn and Spring Carnival.[109]

Emirates is the major sponsor of the Emirates Team New Zealand challenger to the 34th America's Cup in sailing.

Emirates are also major sponsors of English Premier League club Arsenal. In August 2009 the Scottish Junior Football Association announced that Emirates would sponsor their Scottish Cup competition.[110] In 2011, Emirates sponsored the cross-Thames gondola lift, Emirates Air Line in London. Emirates were also the major sponsor of the Deccan Chargers team of Indian Premier League, the largest domestic Cricket tournament in the world. Starting with the 2012 season, Emirates will sponsor the US Open Series, a six-week summer tennis season leading up to the US Open. Their sponsorship runs til 2019.[111] Emirates Airline is the sponsor of AFC travel and play in AFC Champions League, AFF Suzuki Cup, as well as the primary shirt sponsor of the football clubs AC Milan, Arsenal, Hamburger SV, New York Cosmos, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. Emirates Airline is the screen on BMTA by Plan B Media.


Main article: Emirates destinations

Emirates operates over 3,000 flights every week across its network of 159 destinations in over 70 countries across six continents from its hub in Dubai.[1] Several new destinations are added each year.


Emirates is currently not a member of any of the three global airline alliancesOneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance. In 2000, however, the carrier briefly considered joining Star Alliance, but opted to remain independent of the three alliances.[112] The reason for this was later revealed by senior vice-president of the airline's commercial operations worldwide that, "Your ability to react in the marketplace is hindered because you need a consensus from your alliance partners."[113]

Codeshare agreements

As of June 2013, Emirates had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[114]


Emirates SkyCargo

Emirates SkyCargo is the air freight division of Emirates. It began operations in October 1985, the same year Emirates was formed, and launched its own aircraft services in 2001 with a Boeing 747 Freighter. They serve 13 exclusive cargo destinations, besides others in common with Emirates network.[115]

Emirates Executive

Emirates Executive is a new division launched in July 2013 for corporate and private charters. They operate an Airbus A319 Business Jet, featuring private suites and seats for 19 people, a lounge come dining area and bathrooms with full height showers.[116]


Main article: Emirates fleet

Emirates operates a mainly wide-bodied fleet consisting of Airbus A330/A340, Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, as well as Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 777F freighters operated by 4 Emirates SkyCargo. The only narrow body aircraft is an Airbus A319CJ which is operating for the recently launched Emirates Executive charters.

The fleet consists of 194 passenger aircraft, 10 Cargo freighters and 1 Executive jet as of September 2013, with a further 189 aircraft on order.[117] In keeping with its policy of maintaining a young fleet, which stood at an average of 6.4 years as of September 2013,[118] the airline renews its fleet frequently.


First Class suite on a Boeing 777-200LR
Skycruiser First Class on a Boeing 777-300ER
Business Class cabin on the Airbus A380-800
Onboard bar behind the Business Class cabin on the Airbus A380-800
Economy Class on the Boeing 777-300ER
Economy Class ICE system boarding screen
Emirates self-service check-in at Dubai International Airport


First Class

There are 3 types of first class seating; the full suite with doors, flat bed 'Skycruiser' seat (without doors) and 'Sleeper' seats.

The full suite options comes complete with closing doors to ensure privacy, a mini-bar, a coat rack and storage. They also feature the ICE system on a 23 in (58 cm) LCD screen. The seat converts into a 2 m (6 ft 7 in) fully flat bed. Private suites are available on all A380-800, A340-500, Boeing 777-200LR and 3-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

'Skycruiser' seating is available on Boeing 777-200s and Boeing 777-300s. It features seats that extend to flat beds using integrated passenger seat control, along with the ICE system and a 19 in (48 cm) screen. First class seats may also include a personal minibar.[119]

'Sleeper' seating is available on 3-class A330-200 and A340-300 aircraft. The seats feature a pitch of 72 inches (A330-200) and 86 inches (A340-300) and lie nearly flat.

On its newly delivered A380-800, first class features private suites,[120] two shower-equipped lavatories and spa,[121] and access to the first/business class bar area and lounge.[122] Premium class seating is located on the entire upper deck of A380-800 aircraft.

Business Class

Business class on Boeing 777-200ERs, Boeing 777-200LRs, Boeing 777-300s and Boeing 777-300ERs feature seats with a 60 in (150 cm) pitch that recline to 79 in (200 cm)-long, angled lie-flat beds.[123] Amenities include massage function, privacy partition, winged headrest with six-way movement, two individual reading lights and an overhead light per seat, in-seat power supply, USB Ports and an RCA socket for laptop connection, over 600 channels of entertainment on ICE, shown on a 17 in (43 cm) wide TV screen.

The A340-500s have deeply reclining sleeper seats which have a 60 in (150 cm) pitch and are 18 in (46 cm) wide. All A340-500 aircraft feature the ICE system in all three classes. The Boeing 777-200s have 20.5 in (52 cm) seats with a 58 in (150 cm) pitch. The Boeing 777-200s also feature the ICE system. On Airbus A330 aircraft and A340-300s, the seats are standard business class recliners and feature a leg rest and seat back screens. These business class seats are smaller than other business class seats in the Emirates fleet as these aircraft are used predominantly on short-medium haul routes.

On Airbus A380-800 aircraft, the seats recline to form a fully flat bed and are equipped with personal mini-bars. Due to the unique staggered layout, half of the business class seats on Emirates A380 are 9 inches shorter than the others, at only 70 inches long.[124] Business class passengers also have access to an on-board bar at the rear of the aircraft.[123]

Economy class

Emirates Economy class offers a 31–32 inch seat pitch (79–81 cm) and standard seat width (except on the Boeing 777 fleet). Emirates is one of the few airlines that have ten seats per row on its Boeing 777 fleet. The seat features adjustable headrests, a 600–1000 channel ICE In-Flight-Entertainment and in-seat laptop power-outlets on newer aircraft and laptop recharging facilities in galleys in older aircraft. There is additional recline on A380 Economy class seats.[125][126][127]

In-flight entertainment system

Emirates became the first airline in the world to introduce a personal entertainment system on a commercial aircraft after introducing the world’s first seat-back screens in 1992. All three classes feature a personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on Emirates aircraft. There are three types of entertainment system on Emirates: ice; ice Digital Widescreen; and Emirates tv&radio.

Emirates has won the award for best in-flight-entertainment from

Emirates TV&radio is also offered mainly on short haul routes, and 30% of the Emirates fleet offers passengers with 15 video and 26 audio channels, as well as 50 video games. Also available are BBC headlines, an airshow and external cameras giving a birdseye view from the plane.[130]


ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) is the in-flight entertainment system operated by Emirates.

Introduced in 2003, ICE is available on all new aircraft and features between 600 and 1200 channels to all passengers.[131] ICE is found on the airline’s Airbus A380-800, Airbus A340-500, Boeing 777-300ER/ULR and Boeing 777-200LR/ULR aircraft. It is also available on all Boeing 777–300 aircraft which have all been retrofitted.[132]

In July 2007, Emirates introduced ICE Digital Widescreen, an updated version of ICE. It offers over 1200 channels of pre-selected entertainment (up from 600) available to all passengers. ICE Digital Widescreen is available on all new aircraft.[133]


The system is based on the 3000i system from Panasonic Avionics Corporation. ICE provides passengers with a direct data link to BBC News. ICE is the first IFE system to be connected directly to automatic news updates. This is complemented by ICE's Airshow moving-map software from Rockwell Collins. Exterior cameras located on the aircraft can be viewed by any passenger, through the IFE system, during takeoff and landing. Emirates was also one of the first airlines to introduce high-speed, in-flight Internet service along with Singapore Airlines, by installing the Inmarsat’s satellite system and became the second airline in the world to offer live international television broadcasts using the same system.[134]


ICE also contains a link to an in-flight email server which allows passengers to access, send or receive emails for US $1 per message.[135] ICE also contains a seat-to-seat chat service. In November 2006 the airline signed a deal with mobile communications firm AeroMobile to allow in-flight use of mobile phones to call or text people on the ground, on selected 777s. The service was first introduced in March 2008.[136]


The ICE system includes movies, music, and video games. ICE offers over 130 on-demand movie titles and 15 video on demand channels, 60 prerecorded television channels, 350 audio channels, and around 50 video-game titles. ICE can also be accessed in 10 languages such as English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, and Japanese.[137] Since 2003, all entertainment options are available on-demand to all classes with options to pause, forward, and rewind them. The entertainment selections include only heterosexual-themed movies, TV series, etc.

Emirates began to feature docking capability for Apple Inc.'s iPod portable music and video player as of mid-2007. This allows the device's battery to be charged, but also allows integration with Emirates' in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. This also enables the IFE system to play music, television shows, or movies stored on the iPod, as well as function as a control system.[138]

Ground services

Passengers may check-in between two to 48 hours prior to flight departure. This may be done over the counter or at the lounge within the airport. Self-service kiosks are also available at Dubai International Airport,[139] as well as at certain stations of the Dubai Metro.


First and business class passengers, as well as Skywards Gold and Silver members, have access to Emirates Lounges. The airline has 32 lounges in 28 cities.[140] Skywards Silver members can only use the lounges at Dubai Airport. At airports in which Emirates does not operate a departure lounge, a third party departure lounge is usually provided for First and Business class passengers as well as Skywards Gold members.[141]


First and business class passengers can make use of complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers in selected cities.

Frequent-flyer program

Emirates uses Skywards as their frequent-flyer program. Skywards is a four-tier frequent-flyer program operated by Emirates. It is used by over 5.72 million customers.[142] The three primary tiers are Blue; Silver which requires 25,000 tier miles for entry; and Gold, which requires 50,000 tier miles for entry.[143] The Platinum tier requires 150,000 tier miles for entry.[144]

In October, 2013, Emirates launched a frequent-flyer partnership with Virgin America. Members of both airlines’ frequent-flyer programs will earn and redeem Skywards miles.[145]

Business model

The established network carriers in Europe and Australia, i.e. Air France-KLM, British Airways, Lufthansa, and Qantas, perceive Emirates' strategic decision to reposition itself as a global carrier as a major threat because it enables air travellers to by-pass traditional airline hubs such as London-Heathrow, Paris-CDG, and Frankfurt on their way between Europe/North America and Asia/Australia by changing flights in Dubai instead. These carriers also find it difficult to deal with the growing competitive threat Emirates poses to their business because of their much higher cost base.[146][147]

Some of these carriers, notably Air France and Qantas, have accused Emirates of receiving hidden state subsidies and of maintaining too cozy a relationship with Dubai's airport authority and its aviation authority, both of which are also wholly state-owned entities that share the same government owner with the airline. They also allege that Emirates is able to reduce its borrowing costs below market rates by taking advantage of its government shareholders' sovereign borrower status. They claim that this government support cross-subsidises the airline, masking its true financial performance.[78][148]

In May 2010, Emirates Airline executives refuted claims that the carrier does not pay taxes and receives substantial financial assistance from the Dubai government. They claimed that the airline received $80m in cash in kind since the start of the airline 25 years ago and this was substantially lower to what other national carriers have received. Maurice Flanagan also claimed that Emirates incurred social costs of around $600m in 2009 and this included municipal taxes to the city of Dubai. The airline also paid a dividend of AED956m ($260m) in 2010, compared to AED2.9bn ($793m) in 2009 and each year the Government has received at least $100m in dividends.[149]

Emirates also faces competition from other UAE-based airlines, Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi and the low-budget Air Arabia of Sharjah,[150] as well as Qatar Airways of Qatar.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 9 April 2004, an Emirates Airbus A340-300 operating a flight from Johannesburg to Dubai sustained serious damage during takeoff when it failed to become airborne before the end of the runway, striking 25 approach lights, causing four tires to burst which in turn threw debris into various parts of the aircraft, ultimately damaging the flap drive mechanism. This rendered the flaps immoveable in the takeoff position. The aircraft returned for an emergency landing during which the normal braking system failed as a result of the damage. The aircraft was brought to a stop only 250 metres from the end of the 3,400 metre runway using reverse thrust and the alternate braking system.[151] In their report, South African investigators found that the captain had used an erroneous take-off technique, and criticised Emirates training and rostering practices.[152]
  • On 20 March 2009, Emirates Flight 407, an Airbus A340-500 en route from Melbourne to Dubai failed to take off properly at Melbourne Airport, hitting several structures at the end of the runway before eventually climbing enough to return to the airport for a safe landing. In spite of the fact that no fatalities or injuries resulted from this accident, it was severe enough to be classified as an accident by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
  • On 11 November 2012, Emirates flight 413, an Airbus A380 was passing through 9,000 feet after taking off from Sydney Airport when a loud bang was heard, and the pilots received a "No 3 exhaust gas temperature over-limit" warning. The engine then shut itself down, and small debris showered some Sydney homes. The crew turned the plane around and landed safely in Sydney.[153][154]


  • A Emirates made a move of all its operations to its dedicated Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport on 14 October 2008.
  • B The number of destinations does not include cargo-only destinations.
  • C The Emirates Group does not publish figures separately for Emirates SkyCargo or Emirates, instead both of the companies financial results are totaled together.
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Further reading

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External links

Dubai portal
Companies portal
Aviation portal
  • Official site.
  • Official mobile site
  • Emirates – Company profile
  • Fleet
  • Emirates Chairman Interview
  • Emirates Parent Company
  • Emirates Annual Reports
  • Emirates News releases
  • Emirates Skycargo
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