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Emirates (airline)

IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1985
Commenced operations 25 October 1985 (1985-10-25)
Hubs Dubai International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Skywards
Airport lounge Emirates Lounge
Fleet size 222
Destinations 164[1]
Company slogan Fly Emirates.
Hello Tomorrow
(with different additions)
Parent company The Emirates Group
Headquarters Garhoud, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Key people
Employees 56,725 (2014-2015)[2]

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, operating over 3,300 flights per week from its hub at Dubai International Airport, to more than 148 cities in 78 countries across six continents.[4] Cargo activities are undertaken by Emirates SkyCargo.[5]

Emirates is the world’s biggest international carrier,[6] the Houston.[10][11] Furthermore, Emirates plans on launching the longest non-stop commercial flight in the world, from Dubai to Panama City, in February 2016.

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. Pakistan International Airlines also provided training facilities to Emirate'scabin crew in its acedemy. 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14] Emirates is rated as a four-star airline by aviation consultancy group Skytrax. The airline was voted Airline of the Year in 2013.[15] In 2015, Jennifer Aniston made a deal of US$5 Million dollars with the company.[16] The first advert featuring the actress was released online on 5 October 2015.[17]


  • History 1
    • Origins: 1985–1992 1.1
    • Incorporation and growth: 1993–1999 1.2
    • Modern history: 2000–present 1.3
      • Airbus A380 1.3.1
      • Dubai International Terminal 3 1.3.2
  • Corporate management 2
    • Structure and employment 2.1
    • Environmental record 2.2
    • Fleet efficiency 2.3
    • Financial and operational performance 2.4
  • Branding 3
  • Sponsorship 4
  • Destinations 5
    • Alliance 5.1
    • Codeshare agreements 5.2
  • Divisions 6
    • Emirates SkyCargo 6.1
    • Emirates Executive 6.2
  • Fleet 7
  • Services 8
    • Cabin 8.1
    • In-flight entertainment system 8.2
      • ICE 8.2.1
      • Catering 8.2.2
    • Ground services 8.3
    • Lounges 8.4
    • Chauffeur-drive 8.5
  • Frequent-flyer program 9
  • Business model 10
  • Incidents 11
  • See also 12
  • Footnotes 13
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15


Origins: 1985–1992

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.[18] 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 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 leaseing a new Boeing 737–300 and an Airbus A300B4-200.[19][20] The Royal Family's Dubai Royal Air Wing also provided the airline with two used Boeing 727–200 Adv.[21] The airline's first flight, flight EK600, was Dubai–Karachi on 25 October 1985.[21][22]

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.[18] 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.[23] 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.[23]

By 1986, the airline had added new destinations such as Colombo, Dhaka, Amman and Cairo to its route network.[21] 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),[21] 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).[23] By the end of 1987, Emirates was serving 11 destinations. This was followed by an expansion into the Far East market in 1985, with flights to Bangkok, Manila and Singapore,[21] and Hong Kong in 1991.[23] During the first decade of operations, Emirates recorded strong growths averaging 30%.[18]

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 and in the same year, respectively.[23]

Emirates is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 777 and the only airline to have operated every version of the aircraft.[24]

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.[23] 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.[23] It previously had co-operation agreements with Cyprus Airways.[23]

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.[25]

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).[26] As part of the deal, Emirates received a 10-year contract to manage SriLankan.[27] In January 2008, Emirates announced that it would end the management contract, effective April 2008.[27][28] Emirates subsequently sold its stake in the airline to the Government of Sri Lanka, in an estimated US$150 million[26] deal that was finalised in 2010, thus ending any affiliation the two airlines had with each other.[29] On 9 November 2013, Emirates airline unveiled it first light sport aircraft to the world.[30]

Modern history: 2000–present

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 A380. Their member group, Skywards, was also launched in 2000 as the airline grew. 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.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33]

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[34][35] 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.[36]

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.[37] 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.[38] 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.[39]

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.[40] By opening flights to São Paulo in 2007, Emirates began the first non-stop flight between the Middle East and South America;[41] it also began operations of its $120 million Flight Catering Centre at Dubai Airport.[42]

In 2009, Emirates became the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777 with the delivery of the 78th plane.[43] 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.[24] In 2011, at the Dubai Airshow, Emirates placed another order for another 50 777s, worth about $18 billion.[44]

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.[45] 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.[46]

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.[47][48][49] 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.[50]

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.[51]

Airbus A380

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 freighter variants with an order for two A380-800s. In 2007, Emirates ordered 15 A380-800s, bringing the total number ordered to 58.[52] 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.[53]

Emirates Airbus A380 departs London Heathrow Airport (2015)

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.[54] A third delay was announced on 3 October 2006, pushing the initial delivery of the first A380-800 to October 2007.[55] 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."[56] 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.[57] During the same year, on 1 August, Emirates flew its first A380-800 flight, from Dubai to New York-JFK.[58][59]

In February 2009, Emirates raised many issues concerning its A380.[60][61] 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.[62][63][64]

At the 2010 Berlin Air Show, Emirates ordered an additional 32 A380s worth US$11.5 billion.[65][66] 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.[67]

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.[68][69]

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.[70]

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 this aircraft type is scheduled for Dubai-Copenhagen on 1 December 2015.[71]

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.[72] The new concourse 3 opened on 2 January 2013 and is built exclusively for the A380-800.[73][74][75]

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 2015.[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, hospitality services, 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 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.[86]

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.[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. Emirates A380-800s also feature the Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, which save 500,000 litres of fuel per aircraft per year.[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]


The logo in Arabic on the engines of the Airbus A380

In the 1990s, Emirates launched its first set of commercials with the slogan So be good to yourself, Fly Emirates. In 1999, they launched a very rare A330-200 launch commercial with different pictures showing their 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 their route network of 100 destinations in 59+ countries across six continents – Fly Emirates. Keep Discovering and Fly Emirates. To over Six Continents.[100] 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.[101]

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.[102] Some newer aircraft such as the Airbus A380-800, have the Emirates logo painted on the belly of the aircraft.


In cricket, Emirates sponsors Cricket Australia,[103] Lord's Taverners,[104] and Pro Arch Tournament.[105] Their branding also features on international cricket umpires shirts.[106] 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.[107] Emirates are 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 are the shirt sponsor of Lancashire County Cricket Club. Emirates were also the major sponsor of the Deccan Chargers team of Indian Premier League, the largest domestic cricket tournament in the world.

In horse racing, Emirates sponsors the Dubai International Racing Carnival, Melbourne Cup Carnival, and the Australian Jockey Club's Autumn and Spring Carnival.[108]

Emirates is the major sponsor of the Emirates Team New Zealand challenger to the 34th 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 Airlines was also a sponsor of FIFA and the FIFA World Cup, but stopped their 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.

Emirates is the official global sponsor of English Premier League club Arsenal with shirt and naming rights of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. In August 2009 the Scottish Junior Football Association announced that Emirates would sponsor their Scottish Cup competition.[109] Emirates is the sponsor of AFC travel and play, in AFC Champions League and AFF Suzuki Cup. Since the 2005-06 season, they have been primary shirt sponsors 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[110] They are also the New York Cosmos primary shirt sponsors. Emirates is also a sponsor of the FA Cup.

Since the 2012 season, Emirates has sponsored the US Open Series, a six-week summer tennis season leading up to the US Open. Their sponsorship runs till 2019.[111]

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.

In 2011, Emirates sponsored the cross-Thames cable car, Emirates Air Line in London. Also, since 2015, Emirates have 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 operates over 3,000 flights every week across its network of over 160 destinations in over 70 countries across six continents from its hub in Dubai.[1] Several new destinations are added each year.


Emirates is currently not a member of any of the three global airline alliancesOneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance. In 2000, however, the carrier briefly considered joining Star Alliance, but opted to remain independent of the three alliances.[112] The reason 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."[113]

Codeshare agreements

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER on approach to London Heathrow Airport
Emirates George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston

As of August 2015, Emirates had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[114]


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. They serve 10 exclusive cargo destinations, besides others in common with Emirates network.[116]

Emirates Executive

Emirates Executive was launched in July 2013 for corporate and private charters. They operate an Airbus A319 Business Jet, accommodating for 19 people, it features a mix of private suites and seating, a lounge, dining area and bathrooms with full height showers.[117]


An Emirates Airbus A330-200 (A6-EAL) at Düsseldorf Airport
Emirates Airbus A380-800 on approach to Schiphol Airport
Emirates Airbus A340-500 on approach to Zurich Airport

Emirates operates a mainly wide-bodied fleet consisting of Airbus A330/A340, Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, as well as Boeing 747-400F and Boeing 777F freighters operated by Emirates SkyCargo. The only narrow body aircraft is an Airbus A319CJ for Emirates Executive charters.

The fleet consisted of 219 passenger aircraft, 14 cargo freighters and 1 executive jet as of March 2014, with a further 287 aircraft on order.[118] Emirates is the world's largest operator of the 777 and A380 aircraft. In keeping with its policy of maintaining a young fleet, which stood at an average of 6.3 years as of March 2014,[119] the airline renews its fleet frequently.

On June 11, 2014, Emirates cancelled an order for 70 Airbus A350 XWB jets, the first of which was due for delivery in 2019.[120]

On July 9, 2014, the airline finalized a $56 billion order to procure 150 Boeing 777X jets, following a commitment made at the 2013 Dubai Airshow. Production of the 777X is scheduled to commence in 2017, with deliveries targeted for 2020. Including the 115 777-9Xs and 35 777-8Xs finalized on July 9, 2014, the airline has 208 Boeing 777s pending delivery.[121]


Skycruiser First Class on a Boeing 777-300ER
Business Class cabin on the Airbus A380-800
Economy Class on the Boeing 777-300ER


First Class

There are 3 types of first class seating; the full suite with doors, flat bed 'Skycruiser' seat (without doors) and 'Sleeper' seats.

The full suite option comes 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. The seat converts into a 2-metre-long (79 in) fully flat bed. Private suites are available on all A380-800, A340-500, Boeing 777-200LR and 3-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

'Skycruiser' seating is available on Boeing 777-200ERs and Boeing 777-300s. It features seats that extend to flat beds using integrated passenger seat control, along with the ICE system and a 19-inch-wide (48 cm) screen. First class seats may also include a personal minibar.[122]

'Sleeper' seating is available on 3-class A330-200 and A340-300 aircraft. The seats feature a pitch of 1.8 m (72 in) (A330-200) and 2.2 m (86 in) (A340-300) and lie nearly flat.

On its newly delivered A380-800, First class features private suites,[123] two shower-equipped lavatories and spa,[124] and access to the first/business class bar area and lounge.[125] Premium class seating is located on the entire upper deck of A380-800 aircraft.

Emirates is expected to introduce an enhanced 'private bedroom' first class suite on the Airbus A380 by the end of 2015, followed by the Boeing 777-300ER in 2016, with the new suite based on the current design but "more like a private railway cabin."[126][127]

Business Class

Business class on Boeing 777-200ERs, 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.[128] 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.

The A340-500s have deeply reclining sleeper seats which have a 1.5-metre-long (60 in) pitch and are 46 cm (18 in) wide. All A340-500 aircraft feature the ICE system in all three classes. The Boeing 777-200s have 52-centimetre-wide (20.5 in) seats with a 1.5-metre-long (58 in) pitch. The Boeing 777-200s also feature the ICE system. On Airbus A330 aircraft and A340-300s, the seats are standard business class recliners and feature a leg rest and seat back screens. These business class seats are smaller than other business class seats in the Emirates fleet as these aircraft are used predominantly on short-medium haul routes.

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.[129] Business class passengers also have access to an on-board bar at the rear of the aircraft.[128]

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 600–1000 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.[130][131][132]

The cabin lighting on the A380 and newer 777 aircraft is fully provided by LED mood lighting. During night, when cabin lighting is off, there are a few fainter white LEDs with two different brightnesses in the ceiling looking like a starry sky and depicting real constellations such as the Big Dipper and Little Dipper and many others.

In-flight entertainment system

Emirates became one of the first 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 cabin of their Boeing 747-200s in 1991.[133] All three classes feature a personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on Emirates aircraft. There are three types of entertainment system on Emirates: ICE, ICE Digital Widescreen and ICEtv&radio.

Emirates has won the award for best in-flight-entertainment from Skytrax for their ICE system every year since the system's inception in 2003. At present, almost 70% of the fleet has the ice in-flight entertainment and by 2011 the entire Emirates fleet is set to have the system. ICE offers more channels than any other in-flight entertainment system.[134] In addition to ‘Airline of the Year’ award, Emirates also received ‘Best Middle East Airline’ and World’s Best Inflight Entertainment’ at the 2013 edition of the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards.[135]

Emirates TV&radio is also offered mainly on short haul routes, and 30% of the Emirates fleet offers passengers with 15 video and 26 audio channels, as well as 50 video games. Also available are BBC headlines, an airshow and external cameras giving a birdseye view from the plane.[136]

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 screens offered by any airline. The new IFE will only be installed on the Airbus A380 fleet and the newly delivered Boeing 777's.[137]


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.[138] ICE is found on the airline’s Airbus A380-800, Airbus A340-500, Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777-200LR/ULR aircraft. It is also available on all Boeing 777-200ER and Boeing 777–300 aircraft which have all been retrofitted.[139]

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.[140]


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.[141]


ICE has a link to an in-flight email server which allows passengers to access, send or receive emails for US$1 per message.[142] 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.[143]


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 38 languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, and Japanese.[144] 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.

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.[145]


An appetiser served in Business Class on Emirates

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.[146] 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.[147]

Ground services

Passengers may check-in between two to 48 hours prior to at Dubai International Airport,[148] 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.[149] 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.[150]


Complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfer transportation is available to first class and business class passengers in some cities.

Frequent-flyer program

Emirates uses Emirates Skywards as their frequent-flyer program. Emirates Skywards is a four-tier frequent-flyer program operated by Emirates. It is used by over 8.4 million customers.[151] The three primary tiers are Blue; Silver which requires 25,000 tier miles for entry; and Gold, which requires 50,000 tier miles for entry.[152] The Platinum tier requires 150,000 tier miles for entry.[153]

In October 2013, Emirates launched a frequent-flyer partnership with Virgin America. Members of both airlines’ frequent-flyer programs will earn and redeem Emirates Skywards miles.[154]

Emirates has similar frequent-flyer partnerships with: Alaska Airlines, easyJet, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, JetBlue, Jetstar, Korean Air, Qantas, S7 Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, Virgin America. [155]

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.[156][157]

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.[158]

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 since the start of the airline 25 years ago and this was substantially lower to what other national carriers have 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.[159]

Emirates also faces competition from other UAE-based airlines, Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi and the low-budget Air Arabia of Sharjah,[160] as well as Qatar Airways of Qatar.


  • On 9 April 2004, an Emirates 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 immoveable 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 metres from the end of the 3,400 metre runway using reverse thrust and the alternate braking system.[161] In their report, South African investigators found that the captain had used an erroneous take-off technique, and criticised Emirates training and rostering practices.[162]
  • 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.

See also


  • A Emirates made a move of all 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, instead both of the companies financial results are totaled together.
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  • ( onlineThe Economist)
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  • ( onlineFinancial Times)
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  • ( onlineFlight International)

Further reading

  • ( onlineAirliner World)

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • Official website (Mobile)
  • Emirates Parent Company
  • Emirates Annual Reports
  • Emirates News releases
  • Emirates SkyCargo
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