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Founded 1985

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Emirates (Arabic: طَيَران الإمارات‎ DMG: Ṭayarān Al-Imārāt) is one of two flag carriers of the United Arab Emirates along with Etihad Airways and is based in Dubai. 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 over 3,500 flights per week [3][4] from its hub at Dubai International Airport, to more than 142 cities in 78 countries across six continents.[5] Cargo activities are undertaken by the Emirates Group's Emirates SkyCargo division.[6]

The airline ranks among the top ten 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] As of 2014, the airline is the fourth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried [8] and third largest in terms of scheduled passenger-kilometres flown.[9] The airline is 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]

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.[13]

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 140 Airbus A380s and became the second operator of the type after Singapore Airlines. Emirates is an industry bellwether for aircraft purchases, having purchased 200 aircraft in 2013 alone.[14]

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.[15] Emirates is rated as a four-star airline by aviation consultancy group Skytrax. The airline was voted Airline of the Year in 2013.[16]

An Emirates Airbus A300, one of the airline's first aircraft (1995)
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.[17] 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 A300 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,[18] both from Pakistan International Airlines.[19] The Royal Family's Dubai Royal Air Wing also provided the airline with two used Boeing 727–200 Adv.[20] The airline's first flight, flight EK600, was Dubai–Karachi on 25 October 1985.[20][21]

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.[17] 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.[22] 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.[22]

By 1986, the airline had added new destinations such as Colombo, Dhaka, Amman and Cairo to its route network.[20] 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),[20] 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).[22] By the end of 1987, Emirates was serving 11 destinations.[citation needed] This was followed by an expansion into the Far East market in 1985, with flights to Bangkok, Manila and Singapore,[20] and Hong Kong in 1991.[22] During the first decade of operations, Emirates recorded strong growths averaging 30%.[17]

Incorporation and growth: 1993–1999[edit]
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.[22]


The Boeing 777 has become an integral part of the fleet in recent years. Emirates is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 777 and the only airline to have operated every version of the aircraft.[23]
With the onset 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.[22] 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.[22] It previously had co-operation agreements with Cyprus Airways.[22]

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.[24]

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).[25] As part of the deal, Emirates received a 10-year contract to manage SriLankan.[26] In January 2008, Emirates announced that it would end the management contract, effective April 2008.[26][27] Emirates subsequently sold its stake in the airline to the Government of Sri Lanka, in an estimated US$150 million[25] deal that was finalised in 2010, thus ending any affiliation the two airlines had with each other.[28] On 9 November 2013, Emirates airline unveiled it first light sport aircraft to the world.[29]

Modern history: 2000–present[edit]
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In 2000, Emirates made an order for twenty five Boeing 777-300s, eight Airbus A340-500s, 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 lowered 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 5 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, Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International, Middle Eastern rivals Etihad Airways, Saudia 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.[23] 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 from 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]

In the 2013 Dubai Air Show, Emirates made history in Aviation by single-handedly pushing forward with an order of 150 Boeing 777X, 50 Airbus A380 totalling the estimated value to $166 billion. The deliveries of the 777X are scheduled to start in 2020, and will take us to 2025 and beyond - replacing older aircraft and paving way for future growth said Emirates Chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The airline announced that it plans to move all operations to Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport sometime after 2020 when the first phase of the airport is completed.[50]

Airbus A380[edit]
Emirates announced an order in April 2000 for the Airbus A3XX (later named Airbus A380), the largest widebody airliner 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.[51] 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 Airport. In 2005, the first A380-800 in full Emirates livery was displayed at the Dubai Airshow.[52]


Emirates Airbus A380 on final approach to Charles De Gaulle Airport in 2010
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.[53] A third delay was announced on 3 October 2006, pushing the initial delivery of the first A380-800 to October 2007.[54] 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."[55] 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.[56] During the same year, on 1 August, Emirates flew its first A380-800 flight, from Dubai to New York-JFK.[57][58]

In February 2009, Emirates raised many issues concerning its A380.[59][60] 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.[61][62][63]

At the 2010 Berlin Air Show, Emirates ordered an additional 32 A380s worth US$11.5 billion.[64][65] 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.[66]

In 2010, Emirates said they planned to operate over 120 Airbus A380s when new airport space is available. The target implied a future Emirates order for 30 of the world's largest airliner, worth US$10 billion at list prices, at an unspecified date.[67][68]

On 17 November 2013, Emirates announced at a press conference at the Dubai Airshow that they were placing an order for an additional 50 Airbus A380-800s, bringing the overall order total to 140.[69]

Terminal 3[edit]
Main article: Dubai International 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[edit]
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[edit]
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[edit]
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[edit]
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[edit]
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.[95]

In November 2013, Emirates announced its half-year profits, showing a good performance despite high fuel prices and global economic pressure. For the first six months of the fiscal year the revenues reached AED 42.3 billion, an increase of 13% from 2012.[96]

The airline was the seventh-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried,[97] and the largest[98] 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).

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