TTN talks to Mike Simon, senior vice-president corporate communications, Emirates Group, about new destinations, core markets and the airline’s outlook for the future

Q. What are the packages on offer right now?

A. Emirates Holidays recently concluded a highly-successful promotion, Great Value Getaways, which offered travellers an extra night of stay and facilities absolutely free in selected destinations.
As far as inbound travel to Dubai is concerned, the company has offers for various international events taking place in Dubai. Currently, there are special offers for the Dubai Desert Classic and Dubai World Cup, which includes a range of hotels, hospitality, transfers and amenities.
The airline continues to run the ever-popular Dubai Stopover packages starting from $20 offering a range of hotels, meet-and-assist, transfers and much more, all combined to provide travelers a much more exceptional value for money.
Emirates has also extended its Double Skywards Miles offer to March 31  this year in all its markets to further reward its loyal customers.
Arabian Adventures offers a range of tour and safari packages that include off-road adventures and sports, wadi-bashing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sand-skiing, desert over-nighters under the stars and offbeat ones such as Desert Driving Course and Morning With the Stars.
Q. What are the hot destinations of the season?
A. Emirates has seen big increase in business to Dubai, Malaysia, UK, Egypt and Thailand with Mauritius also becoming a star attraction.
This year for the first time, Emirates Holidays has been offering skiing holidays, which have proved an instant hit for their Austrian and French Alps destinations.
Q. How is the market shaping up in this season?
A. As more and more expatriates come to live in Dubai, the out-bound destination holiday traffic is expanding very fast - and the national market is also becoming more adventurous. Emirates’ flights to Brisbane have encouraged nationals to take their families to Gold Coast vacations, while the new expats find they are much nearer destinations like the Maldives, Lebanon, India and Turkey.
Q. What have you done to spruce up in-flight services and reservations?
A. During the years, Emirates has invested millions of dollars in upgrading the Inflight Entertainment System. On the new A340-500 long-range aircraft, Emirates has introduced new mini suites in first class, a new massage cradle seat in business class and in all three classes the 500-channel ICE system (information, communication, entertainment) plus a jet lag beating galaxy sky with changes from night to day as the plane passes through time zones.
More passengers are booking online, but Emirates emphasises that the travel agent remains the most important source for airline reservations. More than 85 per cent of bookings are still coming in via travel agents.
Q. Is the airline part of an alliance?
A. Emirates does not belong to an alliance and has stated on a number of occasions that it has no intention of joining one, though the carrier has codeshares with a number of airlines. Emirates believes it offers consumers a better product, which is more flexible and not tied in to the route network of other airlines, enabling Emirates to ensure its timings are convenient for passengers flying from the Gulf region.
Q. Is there anything in particular that the airline has tailored to the Middle East market at this time?
A. Yes, Emirates has introduced convenient transport to home or hotel by chauffeur-drive vehicles. Pick-up from hotel or home at each end of the journey. Dubai International Airport also has special kerb-side check-in departure lounge with its own customs and security checks also for passengers traveling up front.
Q. How will budget airlines in the region effect your business?
A. Emirates does not believe that the budget airlines in the region can be compared with those in Europe, and the markets are different. It is too early to ascertain weather or not these carriers will have any effect on Emirates’ business. Emirates has also thrived on competition and today there are more than 100 airlines serving Dubai. Emirates intends to continue to improve the quality of its services and will not be bottom-fishing having always found that there is a solid market for passengers who appreciate the Emirates quality service in all three classes.