Emirates battles downturn

The Airbus A380 super jumbo ... to join the Emirates fleet.

UAE-based Emirates Airline has launched a range of new promotions to combat a downturn in air travel following the terror attacks in the United States on September 11.

The promotions in association with Dubai hotels come along with tighter security measures both in the air and on the ground.

Emirates has also launched a group-wide cost cutting programme including reduction in the airline's services to 11 destinations, a freeze on new recruitment and unpaid leave granted to some personnel. It has however ruled out any job cuts.

Longer term, the airline remains confident of the future and has ambitious expansion plans which will see the doubling of its fleet of aircraft by 2010.

"We have no magic formula for running the airline, but we are fortunate to have a visionary ownership and hardworking and loyal staff and management, which has enabled us to grow and prosper over the years despite a number of socio-economic problems," said Mike Simon, director corporate communication at the Emirates Group.

"September 11th is an event which has deeply affected us all in the travel industry, but together with our partners, the travel agents, we believe that we will be able to meet this new challenge."

As part of that effort, Emirates has launched a series of special promotions for the GCC region with rock bottom hotel prices in Dubai ($31 per night). Special promotions for first and business class passengers with a free night at the landmark Burj Al Arab hotel is also included in the package.

The airline is also offering a series of stop-over packages in Dubai as part of the new promotions launched in mid-October.

To ensure passenger safety, the airline, along with other carriers, has been in discussions with manufacturers to enhance security measures. Many of the recommendations have already been introduced by Emirates and all of them are scheduled to be completed before the end of January next year.

The Dubai-based airline took to the air on October 25, 1985 and from a new airline with only two leased aircraft now has a fleet of 36 planes operating to 57 destinations. During this time, the UAE carrier has won more than 200 international awards and last month won the scheduled airline prestigious award from the readers of the UK's Daily Telegraph.

Emirates Airline is a member of the Emirates Group, which also includes Dnata, the sole handling agent at Dubai International Airport, and a major travel agency.

Emirates provides an award-winning in-flight service on its fleet of Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s which are less than an average of three years old. The carrier has the youngest fleet in the world today.

The first and business class lounges at Dubai International Airport were recently given an accolade of best in the world by users of Skytrax, the world airline website for quality awards.

Emirates operates the Skywards Frequent Flyer Programme. At present there are some 275,000 members on this programme, which started just over a year ago.

As well as earning Skywards miles with travelling on Emirates, SriLankan and other airline partners, members can redeem their bonus miles for priority check-in even when flying economy, excess baggage privileges and exclusive lounge access.

Emirates expansion plans reflect the aim of the Dubai government to attract 15 million visitors by the year 2010.

The airline has a number of Boeing 777s on order well as six Super Jumbo Airbus 380s with five options plus six A340-500s, the longest range aircraft in the world, with deliveries due to start at the beginning of 2003, initially flying non-stop services to New York and later to Los Angeles.

The airline also plans to fly non-stop to Sydney in Australia and has been discussing expansion plans to South America and Japan.