FLYING THE FLAG FOR DUBAI : A CHAT WITH SHEIKH MAJID AL MUALLA

Emirates is a young airline, we have been in business for 25 years and – in terms of progress – in this time, we have bypassed the achievements of many legacy airlines. When we talk about Emirates we don’t think about simply selling a seat or delivering a passenger from one point to another. We want to change the perception of flying to make the decision to travel with Emirates a lifestyle choice.

Recently we launched the Hello Tomorrow initiative, which embodies the concept of connecting people from around the world, very much in line with the theme of Dubai’s bid to host EXPO 2020. We are one of the premier sponsors of the bid and all our aircraft carry the EXPO 2020 logo to help promote our cause. Personally I am very optimistic. Not least because of the fact that two thirds of the world’s population is eight hours or less flying time from Dubai.

Emirates currently operates almost 200 wide bodied aircraft, of which 31 are Airbus, and we have almost $65bn worth of orders outstanding, which will translate into around 250 more airliners joining our fleet in the coming years. Currently we fly to around 130 destinations, including 33 in Europe. In 2012 we launched 15 new destinations, so we are talking about an increase in ASK (available seat kilometres), or – in lay man’s terms – seating capacity, of around 20% annually. We are currently ranked third in the world, in terms of international ASK, a fantastic achievement for us.

Last year we carried almost 40m passengers on Emirates. Meanwhile, Dubai International Airport handled close to 58m passengers over 2012, from all the airlines coming into and out of Dubai. The airport operates an open sky policy, which means we do not have any restrictions in place for airlines wanting to use facilities at Dubai International Airport and this has been the case from Day One.

Such decisions are in line with the thinking of Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, who adopted a long-term strategy when building the city’s airports. He believed that a top class airline would bring its own rewards but also that other carriers would be important in playing their part in attracting people to the region and helping it to develop and grow.

Almost 27% of our passengers are transit passengers, travelling from one point in the globe to another via Dubai. We believe that the facilities Emirates and also Dubai airport provide, helps attract these travellers.

We believe in giving our passengers the best available in the market and we are fast at developing new technology wherever and whenever we can. For example, Emirates airline operates 23% of the world’s A380 fleet, as well as 23% of the world’s Boeing 777s. These two aircraft are among the most high-tech, fuel efficient craft available anywhere in the world.

The average age of our airliners is 6.2 years, which makes for a very young fleet. We want to be at the forefront of evolution in the airline industry, running aircraft that demonstrate the best in technology and fuel efficiency. I think that strategy speaks for itself – our airliners are full.

We have a 10 year operation plan and at the moment serve 129 destinations. The only thing preventing us from having more at this time is the supply of aircraft and we can only expand at the rate our fleet is able to grow.

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