Fly Emirates - to any continent

For the first time ever this month, an airline will connect all the continents through a single hub. But Emirates isn’t content to rest on its laurels. CLARK KELLY looks at the future for this Dubai success story
Emirates’ new B777-200LR will help expand its network across continents

The first day of this month is a truly significant date in aviation history.

With Emirates Airline linking Sao Paulo to Dubai, October 1, 2007 marks the first time an airline has connected all the major continents through a single hub. Theoretically, you can now fly from anywhere to anywhere via Dubai.
The airline is deploying the first of 10 new ultra-long-range B777-200LRs, the world’s longest-range twin-engine commercial jets, on the route in what is the first non-stop route between Latin America and the Middle East.
The launch is in line with a slew of new routes, including a service to Toronto, set for October 29, and one to Houston, set for December 3.
The airline now has a fleet of 108 aircraft and its president, Tim Clark, said last month it is looking to grow that number to 180 craft by 2015. By that date, Emirates airline hopes to serve 110 destinations around the world, up from the 90-plus cities it flies to currently.
Deliveries of the airline’s current order book, in excess of 100 aircraft worth roughly $37 billion, should be completed by 2012. Newspaper reports have quoted analysts as saying that if it doesn’t make fresh orders now, its growth might be affected.
Other new routes and capacity increases are reportedly being planned in China, South Africa and South America, as well as to its key Indian markets. From October 28, the airline will launch flights to Ahmedabad, at a special introductory return airfare of Dh1,380 ($375.7). This makes for its ninth Indian and 95th global destination.
Also on the flight plan are increases in services to Australia – to where the airline has been granted increased frequencies to 84 weekly services in 2011 from 49 at present.
So what’s stopping Emirates from making it to the top spot? Delivery timeframes, its top officials have said time and again, will hamper its growth much more than air rights or any other issues.
It appears that the delivery schedule of an average of one aircraft per month is not sufficient to help realise its stated vision to be the best, and its unstated but evident ambition to be your local airline – no matter where in the world you are.