Emirates (airline)

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Emirates Airline
Emirates logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 25 March 1985 (1985-03-25)
Commenced operations 25 October 1985 (1985-10-25)
Hubs Dubai International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Skywards
Fleet size 253
Destinations 143[1]
Company slogan Fly Emirates.
From Dubai to destinations around the world.
Hello Tomorrow
Parent company The Emirates Group
Headquarters Garhoud, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Key people
Employees 64,768 (2016-2017)[2]
Website emirates.com

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.[3] It is the largest airline in the Middle East,[4] operating over 3,600 flights per week from its hub at Dubai International Airport, to more than 140 cities in 81 countries across six continents.[5] Cargo activities are undertaken by Emirates SkyCargo.[6]

Emirates is the world's fourth largest airline by scheduled revenue passenger-kilometers flown,[7] the fourth-largest in terms of international passengers carried,[8] and the second-largest in terms of freight tonne kilometers flown. From March 2016 to February 2017 Emirates had the longest non-stop commercial flight from Dubai to Auckland.

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. With $10 million in start-up capital it was required to operate independently of government subsidy. Pakistan International Airlines provided training facilities to Emirates' cabin crew in its academy. The airline was 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.[9]

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 (with the exception of Emirates Executive[10]). As of November 2017, Emirates is the largest Airbus A380 operator with 103 aircraft in service and a further 42 on order. Since its introduction, the Airbus A380 has become an integral part of the Emirates fleet, especially on long-haul high-traffic routes. Emirates is also the world's largest Boeing 777 operator with 151 of these aircraft in service.


Origins: 1985–1992

Emirates Boeing 727-200 at Dubai International Airport (1991)
Emirates Airbus A300, one of the airline's early fleet (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.[11] As a result, Emirates was conceived in March 1985 with backing from Dubai's royal family, and was required to operate independently of government subsidies, apart from US$10 million. In the mid-1980s, Pakistan International Airlines played a large role in establishing the Emirates airline by providing technical and administrative assistance to the new carrier as well as leasing a new Boeing 737–300 and an Airbus A300B4-200.[12] The Royal Family's Dubai Royal Air Wing also provided the airline with two used Boeing 727–200 Adv.[13] The airline's first flight, flight EK600, was Dubai–Karachi on 25 October 1985.[13][14]

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.[11] 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.[15] 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.[15]

By 1986, the airline had added destinations such as Colombo, Dhaka, Amman and Cairo to its route network.[13] In 1987, a second Boeing 727 was purchased from the Dubai Government and an A300 was temporarily replaced by a second example from Kuwait Airways. On 3 July, Emirates received its first bought aircraft, an Airbus A310 (registration A6-EKA),[13] 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).[15] By the end of 1987, Emirates was serving 11 destinations.[citation needed] This was followed by an expansion into the Far East market in 1989, with flights to Bangkok, Manila and Singapore,[13] and Hong Kong in 1991.[15] During the first decade of operations, Emirates recorded strong growth averaging 30%.[11]

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 in the same year.[15]

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER on approach to Madrid, Spain. Emirates is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 777 and the only airline to have operated every version of the aircraft.[16]

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.[15] 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.[15] It previously had co-operation agreements with Cyprus Airways.[15]

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. In 1996, the airline received its first Boeing 777–200 aircraft, and was followed shortly thereafter by six Boeing 777-200ERs. The arrival of the 777s allowed Emirates to continue its Singapore service onward to Melbourne commencing in 1996 (the flight briefly operated as a Dubai-Jakarta-Melbourne service before being cut due to unprofitability; Emirates would only begin serving Jakarta nonstop again in 2006) which would become a very profitable route for Emirates and would see 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 with Atlas Air, initially for a single Boeing 747–200 freighter.[17]

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).[18] As part of the deal, Emirates received a 10-year contract to manage SriLankan.[19] In January 2008, Emirates announced that it would end the management contract, effective April 2008.[19][20] Emirates subsequently sold its stake in the airline to the Government of Sri Lanka, in an estimated US$150 million[18] deal that was finalised in 2010, thus ending any affiliation the two airlines had with each other.[21] On 9 November 2013, Emirates airline unveiled its first light sport aircraft to the world.[22]

Modern history: 2000–present

An Emirates Airbus A380 in the "United for Wildlife" livery (2016)

In 2000, Emirates placed an order for twenty five Boeing 777-300s, eight Airbus A340-500s, three Airbus A330-200s and twenty-two of the double-decker A380. Its frequent flyer programme, Skywards, was also launched in 2000 as the airline grew. Towards the end of the year, Emirates planned 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.[23]

The financial year 2001–02 would prove to be very difficult 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 damaged three other aircraft. A few months later, the September 11 attacks in New York City saw thousands of cancellations and deferments of travel plans. Emirates needed to find funds for a spike in its multibillion-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.[24]

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.[25]

In 2004, Emirates began flying non-stop to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport using its 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 withdrew its flights in 2001,[26][27] 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 in 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.[28]

Emirates has steadily captured traffic from South Asia to North America, allowing passengers to bypass the hubs of British Airways, Lufthansa, and Air France, 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 five destinations in the country.[29] India was the second country to receive flights from Emirates, and Emirates is expanding its network there. Emirates is the largest airline operating internationally in India and operates over 185 flights a week across 10 cities.[30] 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.[31]

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.[32] By opening flights to São Paulo in 2007, Emirates began the first non-stop flight between the Middle East and South America;[33] it also began operations of its $120 million Flight Catering Centre at Dubai Airport.[34]

In 2009, Emirates became the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777 with the delivery of its 78th example of the type.[35] 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.[16] In 2011, at the Dubai Airshow, Emirates placed another order for another 50 777s, worth about $18 billion.[36]

The growth of Emirates has drawn criticism from carriers such as 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.[37] 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 beyond Toronto, and has been denied expansion to Calgary and Vancouver.[38]

Emirates has also been criticized over the way it utilises its staff.[39] In a 2015 Wall Street Journal report, "a dozen current and former Emirates pilots and U.A.E. aviation officials ... said pilots are flying more hours than before and are subjected to onerous procedures to report sickness or fatigue, discouraging them from doing so."[40] The report stated that the airline frequently underreported pilot duty time to the General Civil Aviation Authority.[40]

On 6 September 2012, it was announced 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 International Airport and end its 17-year revenue-sharing agreement with British Airways on the services between Australia and Britain. Emirates would also seek to use the alliance to increase the number of its passengers flying on its routes to other European destinations, and Emirates passengers gained access to Qantas’ Australian domestic network of more than 50 destinations.

Qantas began daily Airbus A380 services from both Sydney and Melbourne to London via Dubai, meaning that together the two airlines were providing 98 weekly flights between Australia and the Emirates hub. Qantas became the only other airline operating at Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport. The airlines aligned their frequent-flyer programs, including Emirates adding a new level to match the Qantas platinum level.[41][42][43] As of August 2013, the partnership between the two airlines included code-sharing, aligned fares and frequent flyer benefits for passengers, as well as the opening of a joint New Zealand network on 14 August.[44] Qantas will terminate services to Dubai on its own aircraft, effective March 2018; however the partnership will continue, with the two airlines applying for approval to extend it to 2023.[45]

At the 2013 Dubai Air Show, Emirates made aviation orders history with an order for 150 Boeing 777X and 50 Airbus A380 aircraft, with an estimated value of $166 billion. The deliveries of the 777X are scheduled to start in 2020, replacing older aircraft and paving way for growth, said Emirates Chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The airline announced its plans to move all operations to Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport sometime after 2020 when the airport's first phase is complete.[46]

Airbus A380

An Emirates Airbus A380 departs London Heathrow Airport (2015).
Emirates' 100th A380 at Dubai Air Show 2017

In April 2000, Emirates announced an order for the Airbus A3XX (later named Airbus A380), the largest widebody airliner ever built. The deal consisted of five A380-800 passenger aircraft and two freighter versions. The deal was confirmed on 4 November 2001, when Emirates announced orders for 15 more A380-800s. An additional order for 21 A380-800s was placed two years later. In April 2006, Emirates replaced its order for the two freighter variants with an order for two A380-800s. In 2007, Emirates ordered 15 A380-800s, bringing the total ordered to 58.[47] 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.[48]

On 20 November 2005, Emirates ordered 42 Boeing 777s, to help with its expansion. This order came one day after Airbus announced the A380-800 would be delayed by another six months.[49] A third delay was announced on 3 October 2006, pushing the delivery of the first A380-800 to October 2007.[50] The announcement was met with anger by Emirates' President Tim Clark, who threatened to cancel the Airbus order as it was affecting the airline's expansion plan, saying that "It's very serious. This will do us serious damage".[51] As of April 2008, Airbus had paid as much as $110 million in compensation for the late delivery of the A380-800 to Emirates.[52] During the same year, on 1 August, Emirates flew its first A380-800 flight, from Dubai to New York City-JFK.[53][54]

In February 2009, Emirates raised many issues concerning its A380s.[55][56] Emirates informed Airbus officials about heat-damaged power cables, defective engines and numerous malfunctions, many reportedly caused by the aircraft's two showers.[57][58][59]

At the 2010 Berlin Air Show, Emirates ordered an additional 32 A380s worth US$11.5 billion.[60][61] Emirates expected all of its 90 A380s ordered to be delivered by 2017. None of the additional 32 jets were intended to replace existing A380s; although Emirates received its first A380 in 2008, it does not expect to retire these early airframes before 2020.[62]

In 2010, Emirates said it planned to operate over 120 Airbus A380s when new airport space is available. The target implied a future Emirates order for 30 A380s, worth US$10 billion at list prices, at an unspecified date.[63][64]

On 17 November 2013, Emirates announced at a press conference at the Dubai Airshow that it was placing an order for an additional 50 Airbus A380-800s, bringing the overall order total to 140.[65]

On 9 April 2015, Emirates CEO and President Tim Clark confirmed that the airline would adopt a two-class A380 with first class removed to make way for 615 passengers across business and economy class cabins. The first commercial service of an aircraft in this cabin configuration was a flight from Dubai to Copenhagen on 1 December 2015.[66]

Emirates is the largest operator of the A380, with the 100th A380 joining its fleet in November 2017.[67][68]

On 18 January 2018, it was reported that Emirates had placed an order for 20 A380s with options for 16 more with deliveries to start in 2020.[69][70]

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. It is second only to the Boeing Everett Factory.The terminal has annual capacity of 43 million passengers.[71] The new concourse A opened on 2 January 2013 and is built exclusively for the A380-800.[72][73][74]

In May 2011, Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports revealed that Emirates will eventually take over the operation of Concourse C, along with Concourses B and A.[75]

Dreamliner orders

On November 12, 2017, Emirates Airline "renewed its aircraft buying spree" and agreed to buy a number of Boeing's 787 Dreamliners for $15.1 billion. With the first deliveries planned for 2022, the deal included 40 of the new 787-10, the largest available Dreamliner. The Wall Street Journal described the deal as a "painful loss" for Airbus, which until 2014, Emirates had a firm order for 70 of its A350 model. The order for the 787 had been announced during the Dubai Airshow, and Airbus executives were reportedly seated in the front row, expecting a deal for more A380 super-jumbos.[76]

Corporate management

Emirates cabin crew attendants

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.[77][78][79] 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.[80]

In 2015 Emirates paid dividends worth AED2.6 billion (US$708 million), compared to AED1 billion (US$272 million) in 2014.[81] The government has received Dhs14.6 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.[82] 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.[80]

Structure and employment

Emirates has diversified into related industries and sectors, including airport services, engineering, catering, and tour operator operations. Emirates has seven subsidiaries and its parent company has more than 50.[83][84] The company employed a total of 38,797 staff at the end of the fiscal year on 31 March 2011.[85] Its parent company, The Emirates Group, employed a total of 50,000 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.[86]

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 its competency based approach to performance management.[87]

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.[88] 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.[89]
  • 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.[90]
  • 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.[91]

Financial and operational performance

In the financial year 2014–15, Emirates generated revenues of around AED 89 billion ($24.2 billion), which represented an increase of approximately 7.5% over the previous year's revenues of AED 83 billion. Passenger numbers also increased from 44.5 million to 49.2 million over the same period representing an increase of around 11%. Passenger seat factor increased by 0.2% to 79.6%.[92] Cargo carried in 2014-15 also improved, by 5.6% to 2.4 million tonnes (2014–15: 2.25 million tonnes). The airline's profits for the 2014/15 fiscal year rose by 38.3% to AED 5,893 million ($1.25 billion) on the back of the lower oil prices and strong US dollar, although the 80-day runway closure at Dubai International negatively affected results.[93]

Its parent company saw profit up 34% to $1.5 billion for the year to 31 March.[94]

As of March 2015, Emirates did not use fuel price hedging. Fuel was 34.6% of total costs, and employee related costs were 14.3% of total costs.

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 success has been attributed to rapid growth in demand for air travel in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia; the airline's investment in state-of-the-art aircraft, and the availability of airport capacity that can be used 24 hours a day.[98]

Emirates Financial and Operational Performance[D][99][100][2]
Year Ended Passengers Flown
Cargo carried
(thousand tonnes)
Net Profit(+)/Loss(-)
31 March 1998 Increase3,683.4 Increase200.1 Increase4,089. 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
31 March 2014 Increase44,537 Increase2,250 Increase82,636 Increase79,382 Increase(+)3,254
31 March 2015 Increase49,292 Increase2,377 Increase88,819 Increase82,926 Increase(+)5,893
31 March 2016 Increase51,853 Increase2,509 Decrease85,044 Decrease76,714 Increase(+)8,330
31 March 2017 Increase56,076 Increase2,577 Increase85,083 Increase82,648 Decrease(+)2,435
31 March 2018 Increase58,485 Increase2,623 Increase92,322 Increase88,236 Increase(+)4,086


The logo in Arabic on one of the engines of an Airbus A380

In the 1990s, Emirates launched its first set of commercials with the slogan So be good to yourself, Fly Emirates. In 1999, it launched a very rare A330-200 launch commercial with different pictures showing its aircraft with the original logo and the current logo (which was launched a few months before).

There had not been any new commercials until 2004, when the airline changed its slogan to Fly Emirates. Keep Discovering. In 2008, Emirates launched a slogan mainly revolving around its route network of 100 destinations in 59+ countries across six continents – Fly Emirates. Keep Discovering and Fly Emirates. To over Six Continents.[101] Most recently Emirates launched a campaign to promote Dubai as a destination using the slogan Fly Emirates. Meet Dubai. As of 2012, Emirates currently uses the slogan Hello Tomorrow.

Emirates introduced a new design in August 2008 for its 16,000 uniformed staff, designed by Simon Jersey. 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.[102]

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.[103]



In 2011, Emirates sponsored the cross-Thames cable car, Emirates Air Line in London.

Since 2015, Emirates has sponsored the England-based Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, on the south coast. The airline did have £3.5m worth of plans to paint the landmark red, but after some discussion with the residents of Portsmouth and Southsea, Emirates agreed the tower was to be coloured blue and gold, with red lettering of the Emirates sponsor, for the pure reason that Portsmouth F.C. (the local football team) is coloured blue. It is now named "Emirates Spinnaker Tower".


Emirates sponsors Cricket Australia,[104] Lord's Taverners,[105] and Pro Arch Tournament.[106] Its 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 is 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, as well as the naming rights to the Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground, and is the shirt sponsor of Lancashire County Cricket Club. Emirates were also the major sponsor of the Kings XI Punjab (Season 2,3 and 4) and Deccan Chargers (Season 5) and Rajasthan Royals (Season 11)teams of Indian Premier League, the largest domestic cricket tournament in the world.


Emirates Airlines was also a sponsor of FIFA and the FIFA World Cup, but stopped its sponsorship in early 2015, due to allegations of corruption and bribery within FIFA, as well as FIFA's questionable decision to award the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar.

Since the 2006–07 season, it has been the primary shirt sponsor of Arsenal, Hamburger SV and Paris Saint-Germain as well as AC Milan since the 2010–11 season, Real Madrid since the 2013–14 season and Benfica since the 2015–16 season[109] It is also the primary shirt sponsor of the New York Cosmos. Emirates is also the title sponsor of the FA Cup, Emirates Cup and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.

In August 2009 the Scottish Junior Football Association announced that Emirates would sponsor its Scottish Cup competition.[110] Emirates is the sponsor of AFC travel and play, in AFC Champions League and AFF Suzuki Cup.


Since 2014 Emirates Airline has been the sponsor of Super League Rugby League team, the Warrington Wolves. It is a multi-year sponsorship and the cost has been touted as around £5m.

Since 2015, Emirates Airlines is also the sponsor of Super Rugby South African team the Lions as well as having the naming rights of the team and Ellis Park rugby stadium. It is also the main sponsor of USA Rugby.

Emirates is the sponsor for the World Rugby panel of international referees.

Other sports

In horse racing, Emirates sponsors the Dubai International Racing Carnival, Melbourne Cup Carnival, and the Australian Turf Club's Autumn and Spring Carnival.[111]

Emirates is the major sponsor of the Emirates Team New Zealand, winners of the 35th America's Cup in sailing.

Emirates was also a sponsor of British Formula One team McLaren in the 2006 season. It is also the Formula One official airline sponsor since 2013 season. Emirates is a main sponsors at Japanese Grand Prix starts from 2016.

Since the 2012 season, Emirates has sponsored the US Open Series, a six-week summer tennis season leading up to the US Open. Its sponsorship runs until 2019.[112]

Emirates also sponsors Collingwood Football Club in the Australian Football League, and FC Dallas in Major League Soccer.

Since the 2016 season, Emirates is the official airline of the Los Angeles Dodgers of MLB.

Since 2017 Emirates is the sponsor of the UAE Team Emirates -former Team Lampre-Mérida- which is a UCI World Tour Team.


Since 2015, Jennifer Aniston has starred in two commercials for the company.[113][114]


Emirates Boeing 777-200LR taking off from Los Angeles

Emirates operates over 3,000 flights every week across its network of over 140 destinations in over 70 countries across six continents from its hub in Dubai.[1] Several new destinations are added each year.


Emirates is not a member of any of the three global airline alliancesOneworld, SkyTeam or Star Alliance. In 2000 the airline briefly considered joining the Star Alliance, but opted to remain independent.[115] The reasoning 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".[116]

Codeshare agreements

Emirates codeshares with the following airlines:[117] Sometime in December 2017, the Tunisian authorities said that they will suspend Emirates flights to Tunis.[118]

Suspension of service to Qatar

Due to the 2017 Qatar Diplomatic crisis, Emirates, among other carriers has suspended its flights to Doha's Hamad International Airport in Qatar until further notice, as per the instructions from the UAE Government.[120][121][122]


Emirates SkyCargo

Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 747-400F (wet-leased from Atlas Air) landing at Frankfurt Airport

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. It serves 10 exclusive cargo destinations, besides others in common with the Emirates passenger network.[123]

Emirates Executive

Emirates Executive was launched in 2013 for corporate and private charters. It operates a single Airbus ACJ319 business jet, accommodating 19 people.[citation needed] It features a mix of private suites and seating, a lounge, dining area and bathrooms with full height showers.[124]


As of April 2018, Emirates operates a fleet of more than 200 aircraft.[125] Emirates operates the largest fleets of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 in the world,[126][127] with one A319 as an executive jet. The airline also has the Boeing B777X on order. Emirates has had no narrow-body aircraft in its mainline fleet since 1995.


Airbus A380 First Class Private Suite
Business Class Cabin
Boeing 777-300ER Economy Cabin
Emirates Airbus A380 Shower
Emirates Airbus A380 onboard bar


First Class

There are two types of first class seating; the fully enclosed suite with a ceiling to floor door and a private suite with doors that close but don’t extend to the ceiling. Both suites come complete with closing doors to ensure privacy, a mini-bar, a coat rack and storage. They also feature the ICE system on a 23-inch-wide (58 cm) LCD screen in the private suites and a 32-inch-wide (81 cm) on the fully enclosed suite. The seat converts into a 2-metre-long (79 in) fully flat bed. Private suites are available on 3-class Airbus A380-800, all Boeing 777-200LR and 3-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.[citation needed] The fully enclosed suites are available on its newly delivered Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.[citation needed]

On its newly delivered Airbus A380-800, First class features private suites,[128] two shower-equipped lavatories and spa,[129] and access to the first/business class bar area and lounge.[130] Premium class seating is located on the entire upper deck of A380-800 aircraft.

Emirates introduced a new First Class cabin for its Boeing 777-300ER fleet on 12 November 2017 [131] and first flight to Brussels and Geneva on 1 December 2017. The new First Class cabin is configured with six suites on a 1-1-1 layout. The middle suites come with virtual windows that project live feed from the outside of the aircraft on real time. Both the middle suites are equipped with 3 virtual windows which are high definition LCD screens which relay real time image using the HD cameras on either side of the aircraft. Amenities include 2 minibars placed on either side of the entertainment screen, a 13inch tablet with a front camera to communicate with the cabin crew and to order room service. A panel to control the lighting and temperature inside the suite. Emirates has also introduced a new seat in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz, which feature a new zero -gravity position.[132][133] The suites are expected to resemble "a private bedroom on a luxury yacht".[134]

Business Class

Business class on Boeing 777-200LRs, Boeing 777-300s and Boeing 777-300ERs feature seats with a 1.5-metre-long (60 in) pitch that recline to 2-metre-long (79 in), angled lie-flat beds.[135] 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-wide (43 cm) TV screen.[citation needed]

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 23 cm (9 in) shorter than the others, at only 1.8 m (70 in) long.[136] Business class passengers also have access to an on-board bar at the rear of the aircraft.[135]

Economy class

Emirates Economy class offers a 79–81-centimetre-long (31–32 in) seat pitch on Airbus aircraft and 86 cm (34 in) on Boeing aircraft and standard seat width (except on the Boeing 777 fleet). Emirates has ten seats per row on its Boeing 777 fleet. The seat features adjustable headrests, a 3000 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.[137][138][139]


An appetiser served in Business Class on Emirates.
On-board meal in Economy class

Catering on Emirates flights from Dubai International is provided by Emirates Flight Catering which operates one of the largest airline catering facilities in the world.[140] Emirates also offers special meal options, in all classes, based on age, dietary restrictions, preference and religious observance. Special meals must be ordered in advance, at least 24 hours before the flight departure time. Halal meals, however, do not need to be booked as they are part of the normal meal.[141]

In-flight entertainment system

Emirates became one of the first group of airlines in the world to introduce a personal entertainment system on a commercial aircraft in 1992, shortly after Virgin Atlantic introduced a similar system throughout the cabins of its aircraft in 1991.[142] All three classes feature a personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on Emirates aircraft. There are two types of entertainment system on Emirates: ICE and ICE Digital Widescreen.

In 2012, Emirates introduced larger high definition IFE screens in all classes. The new IFE is the first to be fully high definition, and in economy, the screens are the largest offered by any airline. The new IFE will only be installed on the Airbus A380 fleet and the newly delivered Boeing 777's.[143]


ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) in Economy Class

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.[144] ICE is found on the airline’s Airbus A380-800, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-300 and Boeing 777-300ER.[145]

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.[146]

Later in 2015 Emirates will upgrade its ICE - inflight system to the new eX3 system which will include new upgrades that will improve passenger experience, these include Handset with more controls, Larger screens, New sockets, New ICE features, such as a Voyager app, Bluetooth audio and personal video playback. These will be fitted in existing B777 and A380 as well as installed on new aircraft that will be delivered to the airline.[147]


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, cruise 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.[148]


ICE has a link to an in-flight email server which allows passengers to access, send or receive emails for US$1 per message.[149] ICE also supports 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, from some 777s. The service was first introduced in March 2008.[150]


The ICE system includes movies, music, and video games. ICE offers over 600 on-demand movie titles, over 2000 video on demand and prerecorded television channels, over 1000 hours of music and over 100 video-game titles. ICE can be accessed in more than 40 languages including English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Thai, Italian and Japanese.[151] Since 2003 all entertainment options are available on demand to all classes with options to pause, forward, and rewind them. The entertainment selections do not include homosexually-themed options.[citation needed]

Emirates began to offer docking capability for Apple Inc.'s iPod portable music and video player in mid-2007. This allows the device's battery to be charged, and integrates with Emirates' in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The IFE system can play music, television shows, or movies stored on the iPod, and function as a control system.[152]

Ground services

The Emirates Lounge at Glasgow Airport

Passengers may check-in between two and 24 hours prior to at Dubai International Airport,[153] as well as at certain stations of the Dubai Metro.


First and business class passengers, and Skywards Platinum and Gold members have access to 33 Emirates lounges in 32 cities.[154] Skywards Silver members can use the lounges at Dubai Airport only. 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 and Skywards Platinum and Gold members.[155]


Complimentary chauffeur driven airport transfers are available to Business and First Class passengers in over 60 cities.

It was known that Emirates used Volvo V70 wagons for Business Class passengers and Mercedes Benz E-Class cars for First Class passengers in Dubai, however, as of March 2017, Emirates has upgraded its fleet of cars for Business Class passengers to brand new BMW 5 Series touring cars.[156][157]

The type of vehicle varies depending on the location and service provider that the airline has signed a contract with in that area.

Frequent-flyer program

Emirates Skywards is the frequent-flyer program of Emirates launched in the year 2000. The program had over 16 million members as of 2016.[158] The program uses two separate points systems – Skywards Miles as the currency that can be redeemed for benefits, and Tier Miles as the metric that determines a member’s tier status.

There are four tiers – Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Once any customer registers, he or she becomes a Blue member. This registration is free of any charges. Silver tier requires 25,000 Tier Miles, Gold tier requires 50,000 Tier Miles and Platinum tier requires 150,000 Tier Miles for qualification respectively.[159]

Emirates Skywards has partners across airlines, banks, hotels, car rentals and retail/lifestyle verticals.[160]

As of 2016 Emirates has frequent-flyer partnerships with: Alaska Airlines, easyJet, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, JetBlue, Jetstar, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, S7 Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, Virgin America, Air Mauritius and GOL.

Emirates Skywards has partnered with Starwood Preferred Guest (also known as SPG, the loyalty program of Starwood Hotels and Resorts) to bring its members Your World Rewards. This allows Emirates Skywards members to earn both Skywards Miles and Starpoints (the loyalty currency for SPG program) when they either fly with Emirates to over 150 destinations or stay at any of SPG’s 1,200 Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Another noteworthy partnership is Emirates Skywards partnership with Dubai Duty Free (DDF) which was launched in 2016. This partnership allows members to spend their Skywards Miles at participating Dubai Duty Free outlets when they travel through Dubai airports. Members can redeem their Skywards Miles for duty-free products at Dubai International airport and Al Maktoum International at Dubai South. Redemptions start from 4,500 Skywards Miles (worth AED 100), and members can instantly redeem Skywards Miles at the checkout. Each additional Dirham (AED) is equivalent to 45 Skywards Miles, and there is no upper limit to the number of Skywards Miles that can be spent.

From 28 August 2016, Emirates Skywards enabled its members to use Miles or a combination of Cash+Miles (C+M) to pay for an EK published fare as a form of payment.[161]

This benefit allows members to redeem a minimum of 2000 Skywards Miles and a maximum of total amount of base fare in Skywards Miles. Cash+Miles is used as a form of payment for the base fare only and excludes taxes and carrier imposed charges. This benefit is available on Emirates flights only and not available on any other airlines with which Emirates has a codeshare agreement.

Cash+Miles offers Emirates Skywards members more choice and flexibility when it comes to spending their Skywards Miles. This is available in all classes and is applicable to all fare types.

Business model

Emirates aircraft parked at Dubai International Airport

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.[162][163]

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. Qantas' chairman claimed that Emirates is able to reduce its borrowing costs below market rates by taking advantage of its government shareholders' sovereign borrower status.[80] Emirates' president disagrees, and has also referred to United States airlines bankruptcy protection as being a substantial form of state assistance. The airline makes regular profits.[164] In recent years (2016), American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines have made similar claims as well as stating that they violate Open Skies.

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 and kind in the 25 years since the airline was established and this was substantially lower than what other national carriers had 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.[165]

Emirates also faces competition from other UAE-based airlines, Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi and the low-budget Air Arabia of Sharjah,[166] as well as Qatar Airways of Qatar.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 9 April 2004, Emirates Flight 764, an 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 immovable 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 meters from the end of the 3,400 meter runway using reverse thrust and the alternative braking system.[167] In their report, South African investigators found that the captain had used a wrong take-off technique, and criticized Emirates training and rostering practices.[168]
  • On 20 March 2009, Emirates Flight 407, an Airbus A340-500 (Registration A6-ERG) 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. There were no injuries, but the incident was severe enough to be classified as an accident by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
  • On 3 August 2016, Emirates Flight 521, a Boeing 777-300 registered A6-EMW arriving from Trivandrum International Airport, crash-landed and caught fire at Dubai International Airport at 12:44 PM local time. All 282 passengers and 18 crew on board survived the impact with some having minor injuries.[169][170] However, an airport firefighter lost his life fighting the blaze. The aircraft was destroyed by the fire.[171] Flight 521 was the first hull loss in the history of Emirates.



  • A Emirates moved 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, both companies' financial results are aggregated.


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Emirates profile on Dhow Net


  • The Economist, 2005/6. London, UK: The Economist Newspaper Ltd.  (The Economist online)
  • Financial Times, 29 October 2005. London, UK: UK Edition.  (Financial Times online)
  • Financial Times, 19 July 2006. London, UK: UK Edition.  (Financial Times online)
  • The Sunday Times, 23 July 2006. London, UK.  (The Sunday Times online)
  • Flight International, 25–31 July 2006. Sutton, UK: Reed Business Information Ltd.  (Flight International online)

Further reading

  • "Emirates – 25 Years of Excellence: Building a global network". Airliner World. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing: 28–37. October 2010. ISSN 1465-6337.  (Airliner World online)

External links

  • Media related to Emirates (airline) at Wikimedia Commons
  • Official website (Mobile)
  • Emirates Parent Company
  • Emirates Annual Reports
  • Emirates News releases
  • Emirates SkyCargo
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