Dubai’s flagship airline that started 30 years back with just two planes and $10 million is now named the world’s most valuable airline brand, with an estimated value of $6.6 billion
by Pushpa Mishra– Emirates Airlines celebrated its 30th anniversary on 25 October 2015. Commemorating the occasion, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates airline and Group, said, “Today we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Emirates airline.”
“From humble beginnings, Emirates, in tandem with Dubai and the UAE, has grown to become a leading player on the global stage,” said the Chairman and CEO.
Emirates had launched its inaugural flight, Boeing 727-200, from Dubai to Karachi on 25 October 1985. Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and Briton Sir Maurice Flanagan started the aviation initiative with two planes and $10m as the funds.
Now, it has an impressive fleet of more than 230 aircraft flying to over 140 destinations in 80 plus countries.
“Today Emirates connects Dubai to more than 140 cities in 6 continents. With each new flight we add to our global network, we exponentially increase connectivity options between cities, and flight choices for our customers,” he added.
It boasts of carrying 50 million passengers annually and has an immense workforce of 75,000 people belonging to 160 nationalities.
“Without the daring vision and support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, whose brainchild it was for Dubai to set up its own airline back in 1985, none of this would have come to pass. From day one, Sheikh Mohammed’s expectations for Dubai’s aviation industry have been clear, driving us – the airline, the airport, and the entire ecosystem – to be world-class, and number one globally,” he added.
By its 10th birthday in 1995, the airline was already flying to 34 locations in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. By the turn of the century, Emirates became the first customer of Airbus’ double-decker jet, A380.
The phenomenal growth of the group mandated an-Emirates dedicated $600 million terminal at the Dubai International airport in 2008 with a capacity to carry 20 million passengers annually. The airline has always made massive aircraft purchases; sometimes the largest in the civil aviation industry ever. It ordered 15 A380s, 8 A340-600s, three A330s, and 25 B777s in 2001 when the global aviation industry was reeling under the aftermath of September 11 attack. This was followed by a $19 billion order for 71 aircrafts at the 2003 Paris Air Show. In 2007, airlines ordered 120 A350s, 11 A380s and 12 B777-330ERs worth $34.9 billon. In 2010, it ordered yet another 32 A380sand 30 B777-300ERs whereas in 2011 it bought 50 B777-330ERs $18 billion. In 2013 again a record-breaking order worth $91.4 billion comprising 150 B777X and 50 A380s was made.
“We have 267 aircraft in order worth US$ 128 billion. These new aircrafts are not only for fleet expansion, but are also replacing our older aircraft so that Emirates will always provide the best possible flying experience. By 2020, we expect to fly 70 million passengers on our fleet of 300 aircraft,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
Currently, it has the world’s largest fleets of airbus double decker jets and the Boeing 777 aircraft. Additionally, its average fleet age, 75 months, is half the industry average of 140 months.
“As we look back on Emirates’ and Dubai’s achievements in the aviation sector, we know these are just milestones on a journey and we have a long way more to go. Our successes to date only motivate us strive for more,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed.
Earlier this year, Emirates announced the world’s longest, non-stop route flight — 17 hours and 35 minutes — between Dubai and Panama City in Central America to be operational from 1 February 2016.
The airline has been always at the forefront of passenger in-flight services: it was the first airline to install TV screens on the back of all seats, in all classes, in 1992; was the first to providing the in-flight fax service in 1994 and email and SMS services in 2013. Currently, its annual cost to add WiFi across its fleet runs to $20m.
“To ensure we stay ahead of the game, we will also continue to invest in new technologies, in developing our products and services, and in nurturing our talent pool,” added the Chairman.
The carrier has made significant impetus on economic and political fronts both domestically and internationally. The GDP contribution is expected to grow to 37.5 percent by 2020 and 44.7 percent by 2030.
By next decade, the airline may be shifted to the new Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, which will have 220 million passenger capacity. Its other associated companies like ground handling, cargo, travel and catering have also escalated their businesses tremendously.
Emirates was named the world’s most valuable airline brand, with an estimated value of $6.6bn, in Brand Finance’s 2015 Global 500 report.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for his continuous support to Emirates and to the UAE’s aviation industry. I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the dedicated men and women working at Emirates airline. From over 160 countries, they have come to join us and in building a global airline to provide travelers and customers around the world with the best possible experience, and it is their passion and hard work that will enable us to grow our leadership in the aviation industry,” said the Chairman in his concluding remarks.