Emirates is the national airline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the largest airline in the Middle East, operating over 2,400 passenger flights per week, from its hub at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3, to 105 cities in 62 countries across six continents. The company also operates three of the world's ten longest non-stop commercial flights from Dubai to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. Emirates is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, which has over 50,000 employees, and is wholly owned by the Government of Dubai directly under the Investment Corporation of Dubai. Cargo activities are undertaken by the Emirates Group's Emirates SkyCargo division.
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, whose Dubai Royal Air Wing provided two of the airline's first aircraft. 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, a new terminal exclusively dedicated to Emirates to sustain its rapid expansion and growth plans.
Emirates operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft and is one of only nine airlines to operate an all-wide-body aircraft fleet, whose centrepiece is the Boeing 777. Emirates also has orders for 90 Airbus A380s with 15 of them already in service and became the second operator of the Airbus A380-800 after Singapore Airlines when their first aircraft was delivered on 28 July 2008. Emirates has won numerous awards and is an industry bellwether for aircraft purchases, purchasing over 130 aircraft in 2007 alone.
The airline ranks amongst the top 10 carriers worldwide in terms of revenue and passenger kilometres, and has become the largest airline in the Middle East in terms of revenue, fleet size, and passengers carried as of 2007. In 2010 the airline was the sixth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried, and largest in the world in terms of scheduled international passenger-kilometres flown. The airline was also the seventh largest in terms of scheduled freight tonne-kilometres flown.
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. In 2010, Emirates was voted the eighth best airline in the world by research consultancy firm Skytrax.
In February 2011, Air Transport World gave Emirates Airlines the title of Airline of the Year for 2011. The award has been given based on recognition of strong commitment to safety and operational excellence, customer service trendsetters, superb financial condition including 22-year consecutive annual profit.
Emirates became profitable within its first nine months. During its first year, it carried about 260,000 passengers and 10,000 tons of freight. To highlight the airline's early success, Gulf Air, during Emirates' first year of operations, suffered a 30% drop in profits, and a loss the following year. By 1986, the airline was adding new destinations such as Colombo, Dhaka, Amman and Cairo to its route network. On 3 July, Emirates received its first bought aircraft, an Airbus A310 (registration A6-EKA), 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). This was followed by an expansion into the Far East market in 1989, with flights to Bangkok, Manila and Singapore, and Hong Kong in 1991. During the first decade of operations, Emirates recorded strong growths averaging 30%. This was despite the lack of a regional network, as its main competitor Gulf Air dominated traffic in the region.
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 and its cargo division, Emirates SkyCargo, carried 1.6 million passengers and 68,000 tons of cargo and in the same year, respectively. 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. 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. It previously had co-operation agreements with Cyprus Airways. By 1994, with its 15 aircraft, the airline was connecting 32 destinations. At this time Emirates was the sixth largest airline in the Middle East. To highlight the carrier's rapid growth, in the financial year ending 30 March 1994, Emirates received revenues of US$643.4 million. The airline's workforce was approximately 4,000 people, carrying two million passengers a year to 34 destinations using a fleet of 18 Airbus aircraft. An order for seven new Boeing 777s, worth over US$1 billion, were placed in 1992, which started to arrive in the spring of 1996. One of the planes was used on a new service to Melbourne via Singapore. Emirates placed a large order with Airbus later the same year. In spite of the large capital expenditures, the Dubai government had laid out only US$50 million since the airline's inception.
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). As part of the deal, Emirates received a 10-year contract to manage SriLankan. In January 2008, Emirates announced that it would end the management contract, effective April 2008. Emirates subsequently sold its stake in the airline to the Government of Sri Lanka, in an estimated US$150 million deal that was finalised in 2010, thus ending any affiliation the two airlines had with each other.
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 380-800s and lease orders for two A380-800s. Emirates also announced operating lease orders for 26 Boeing 777-300ERs – 14 from GE Capital Aviation Services and 12 from the International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). In the same year Emirates began flying directly to Sydney using three new Airbus A340-500s.
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 USA, after Delta Air Lines's flights since 2001, terminated later and restarted again in 2007. In the same year, Emirates signed a £100 million deal with English Premiership side 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. A year later, Emirates SkyCargo signed a $2.8 billion order for 10 Boeing 747-8Fs.
Emirates has been steadily capturing the traffic from South Asia to North America, allowing passengers to bypass the traditional hubs of London Heathrow, Frankfurt, 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 from the airline and it still does to this day. 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. 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.
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 777-330ERs. In the same year, Emirates began flights to São Paulo representing the first non-stop flight between the Middle East and South America and also began operations of its $120 million Flight Catering Centre at Dubai Airport.
Emirates introduced an in-flight mobile phone service in 2008, becoming the first international carrier to do so. Also in the same year, Emirates took delivery of their first A380, and flew its first flight to New York.
In 2009, Emirates became the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777 with the delivery of the 78th plane. 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.
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 A380-800s and two Airbus A380-800Fs. The deal was confirmed on 4 November 2001, and Emirates announced orders for 15 more A380-800s at the same time. Two years later Emirates again placed an order, this time for 21 A380-800s. In April 2006, Emirates ordered two more A380-800s, and cancelled their two orders for the freighter variant. In 2007, Emirates ordered 15 A380-800s, bringing the total number ordered to 58. Emirates justified its order saying that purchasing the 481- to 656-passenger Superjumbo was to maximize its use of scarce takeoff and landing slots at crowded airports such as London Heathrow.
In November 2005, the first A380-800 in full Emirates livery was flown to Dubai, where it was displayed at Dubai Airshow 2005. 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 Superjumbo would be delayed by another six months. A third delay was announced on 3 October 2006, pushing the initial delivery of the first A380-800 to October 2007. 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." 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. During the same year, on 1 August, Emirates flew its first A380-800 flight, with 489 passengers, from Dubai to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
In February 2009, Emirates raised many issues concerning its A380. Emirates gave a 46-page presentation in Toulouse, informing Airbus officials about heat-damaged power cables, defective engines and numerous malfunctions, many reportedly caused by the two showers installed in the aircraft.
On 8 June 2010, at the Berlin Air Show, Emirates ordered an additional 32 A380s worth US$11.5 billion. The deal was the biggest single order for the world’s largest passenger aircraft. This latest order, added to the 58 A380s previously ordered, brings the total to 90. Emirates expects all 90 superjumbos 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. Later in June 2010, Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, hinted at further orders for A380s.
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.
The airline now uses their Airbus A380-800s on flights to (in order of launch date) London Heathrow, Sydney, Auckland (via Sydney), Bangkok, Toronto, Paris–CDG, Seoul/Incheon, Jeddah, Beijing–Capital, Manchester, Hong Kong (direct and via Bangkok), New York–JFK, Shanghai–Pudong, from October 1, 2011 Johannesburg and from January 1, 2012 Munich. The Dubai to Jeddah route currently is the shortest route flown by the Airbus A380 taking approximately 3 hours, following the introduction and withdrawal of the London to Paris services by Air France over summer 2010.
The airline also flew their Airbus A380-800 on a one time flight to the following destinations:
* San Francisco on August 4, 2008, for a promotional tour.
* Birmingham on September 9, 2009, to open the new 'International Pier' and to celebrate the airport's 70th anniversary.
* Delhi on July 15, 2010, to open the new terminal.
* Milan-Malpensa on July, 29, 2010, to launch the new AC Milan kit, and unveil Emirates as shirt sponsor.
* Kuwait on February 26, 2011, in honor of Kuwait's 50th National Day.
The airline has also expressed interest in starting A380 flights to Melbourne via Singapore. The airline is also looking at adding its second regional A380 route in the next coming year also. The most likely to be served by of these will be Birmingham, Düsseldorf or Houston.