Fast-growing Emirates is planning for the future

Director of Corporate Communications of the Emirates Group, MIKE SIMON spoke to TTN about the growth and expansion plans of Emirates airline.
Emirates is all set for massive expansion.

Q: With Emirates being the leading airline operating in the region, what are your future growth plans?

A: Emirates has $15 billion worth of aircraft on order including 22 A380 double-deckers. The airline is in an expansive mood at the moment and will receive 12 new aircraft in the next 12 months after adding six new destinations last year.

Emirates intends to fly to Shanghai, Moscow, Lagos and Brisbane this year. From April 1 next year, the UAE carrier will operate nonstop from Dubai to New York with the ultra-long-range A340-500 planes.

Q: Do you think that there are too many competitors in the region?

A: As in all market places, competition is healthy. As long as the customer is being provided with top quality service, good punctuality, excellent maintenance and value for money, Emirates sees no reason, why there should not be a choice for passengers and cargo customers.

Q: Where do you think is the next growth area for Emirates?

A: Emirates will be increasing capacity throughout its network in the next twelve months and USA looks like an area for potential growth.

Q: Which is Emirates' fastest growing market?

A: We would rather not give an indication to our competitors, where we think the best potential is, but certainly Europe, Australia and the Far East are all showing growth in business and on vacation fronts.

Q: What kind of ground and air services do Emirates or its associates provide?

A: Emirates provides an all-the-way service for its first and business class passengers. A chauffeur-driven limousine picks up the passenger from home and takes him/her to the airport.

In the case of Dubai, Emirates has recently opened a unique first and business class check-in lounge with a curbside white-gloved concierge service. There are also award-winning lounges in the departure terminal with hot and cold quality cuisine, business centre and bedrooms at Dubai International Airport.

On board, Emirates offers the highest standards of in-flight service, which has won the carrier more than 220 awards since the airline started in 1985, including Airline of the Year 2002 from Skyfax.

It has been voted the airline with the best cabin crew several times. There are some 80 different nationalities and there is always about eight different languages spoken among them.

The Emirates fleet consists of wide-bodied Boeing 777/200 and A 777/300 and Airbus A330/300, forming the youngest fleet in the air with an average age of less than three years.

In economy class, passengers have a wide range of movies and music channels as well as games, a choice of meals and phone and fax are available. First and business class represent some of the finest in-flight services in the world with gourmet cuisine, vintage wines and a wide selection of magazines and newspapers to complement the touch-screen in-flight entertainment programmes.

Video on-demand: In 1999, Emirates began installing video players in business class seats as well as first class, becoming one of the first airlines to do so. Today, almost 70 per cent of Emirates aircraft have video players in business class, all have them in first class, offering an extensive entertainment choice.

Later this year, Emirates will be introducing an even more enhanced entertainment system on the new A340 aircraft, which will set the benchmark for the whole industry.

Q: How important are alliances to airlines?

A: Emirates has always maintained that alliances are not important to airlines and has never joined one. Although we operate code-shares with a number of major carriers such as Thai Airways, South African Airways, and Air Mauritius, we believe that it is in the interest of our passengers and cargo customers that we maintain our independence and do not tailor our services to the requirements of several other alliance members. We are independent and proud of it.

Q: What alliances does Emirates have?

A: The only other alliance Emirates has is the equity share holding in SriLankan Airlines, which we also manage on a ten-year contract.

Q: A brief outline of the role of Emirates in making Dubai a travel hub?

A: Emirates is proud in the past 17 years to have contributed to making Dubai a major travel hub and with the start of services to the USA next year becoming a truly global hub - offering services North, South, East and West.

Emirates is fortunate to be based in Dubai, where the Government's vision and ambitions have resulted in multi-million dollar expansion of the airport facilities to make the recent airport one of the most modern and futuristic facilities in the world. There are plans for the start of the Emirates terminal to be opened in late 2005.