Published on February 1st, 2016 | by Jim Lee


2015 marked another year of growth at Emirates with key milestones achieved

For Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, 2015 was another year of growth, underscored by standout milestones across its fleet, network, and customer experience initiatives. Its growing business footprint also delivered increasing positive impact on the economies and communities it serves.

Since January 2015, the airline has carried over 51.3 million passengers, which represented 9% more passengers during the same period in the previous calendar year.

Emirates operated around 3,600 flights on average per week, or over 186,000 flights in 2015, travelling more than 824 million kilometres around the globe, which is the distance equivalent of more than 1,000 trips to the moon and back. The airline served over 57 million meals on its flights departing Dubai, and handled over 35 million pieces of baggage in Dubai alone.

Remarking on the year’s accomplishments, Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “2015 has been one of considerable growth for Emirates as we continued to steer our course despite the headwinds of regional conflict, unfavourable currency impact, and shaky business and consumer confidence in many global markets. Emirates has come out strong, as our mind-set, combined with our fleet and network strategy has enabled us to absorb shocks and maximise opportunities.

Through our 30 years of operation to date, Emirates has always stayed focussed on its core strategies: an efficient fleet and operations that capitalise on Dubai’s strategic location and infrastructure; an excellent product and service proposition for our customers; and recruiting and retaining the best talent from around the world. We will continue to build on these strengths, even as we drive ourselves to achieve new goals and set new standards for ourselves and the industry.”

Strategic fleet investment

HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum chairman Emirates group

HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum Chairman Emirates group

Emirates added 26 new aircraft to its fleet in 2015, comprising 15 A380s, 10 Boeing 777-300ERs and 1 Boeing 777 Freighter, rounding off the year with 246 aircraft in service.

With the addition of new aircraft in 2015 and 26 more aircraft slated to retire in 2016, Emirates is committed to flying a younger, modern and environmentally friendly fleet that provides customers with a superior level of comfort and safety. It is planning to conclude commercial A340 operations later in 2016 in line with this fleet renewal strategy. It will retire its four remaining A340-300s and lone A340-500 alongside twenty-one other ageing aircraft including twelve A330-200s, six Boeing 777-200(ER)s, two Boeing 777-300s, and one Boeing 777-300(ER). Emirates currently use its A340s on flights across Africa, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Iran, and China.

We previously reported on the airline’s 150th Emirates Boeing 777 delivery milestone, as part of a triple delivery of two Boeing 777-300ERs and one Boeing 777 Freighter, together with an Airbus A380, on 3rd September (see here), which strengthened Emirates’ position as the world’s largest operator of both the A380 and Boeing 777. This was followed by our post on 6th December 2015 which recorded the delivery of Emirates first two class configured A380 with the capacity to carry 615 passengers. The aircraft drew in over 18,000 visitors in five days at the Dubai Airshow in November, and currently serves passengers flying to Copenhagen and Bangkok.

Emirates A380 & cabin crew

Connecting the world to, and through Dubai

The airline expanded its network to 150 destinations in 2015, with the addition of six new passenger destinations: Bali, Multan, Orlando, Mashhad, Bologna and Sabiha Gokcen in Istanbul; and three cargo-only destinations in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Columbus (USA) and Ciudad del Este, (Paraguay). In addition, Emirates uplifted frequencies and upgraded capacity to numerous points across its network.

In August, Emirates announced plans to launch services to Panama City, beginning 1st February 2016. The new service will be the longest non-stop flight in the world (17 hours 35 minutes) and will be Emirates’ first gateway destination in Central America.

In 2015, Emirates expanded the number of cities served by its flagship A380 aircraft to 36. Emirates brought A380 services to Perth, Dusseldorf, Madrid and Copenhagen, and layered on more A380 services to the schedules of nine other existing points spanning east to west, to highly positive customer feedback. During the year, Emirates also led one-off A380 services to seven destinations: Prague, Taipei, Brussels, Sao Paulo, Cologne, Manama and Doha. It is now deploying its highly popular A380 to even more destinations across its network in 2016, including Birmingham, Prague and Taipei. Flying the world’s largest fleet of A380 aircraft, with the delivery of its 72nd, A6-EOT, on 24th December, Emirates continues to set the pace for A380 deployment. Since Emirates launched is first A380 flight in 2008, the aircraft has flown over 42 million passengers, covering more than 630 million kilometres.

Enhancing customer experience

EconomyEmirates continues to invest over $20 million (€18.47 million) annually to install and operate inflight connectivity systems which enable on-board Wi-Fi services. This year alone, over four million Emirates passengers connected to Wi-Fi on board, reflecting the strong consumer demand for connectivity services while travelling.

While we already reported on some of Emirates customer experience enhancements, it is worth re-capping the most notable of these. It rolled out its newest generation in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on its newly delivered Boeing 777-300ER in August and Airbus A380 aircraft in November, featuring the largest in-seat screens in First and Economy Class, along with three times the media storage – elevating the viewing experience and offering passengers in all cabin classes an even greater choice of content. This followed the launch of new, redesigned headphones for Economy Class travellers in April.

In October, Emirates launched new amenity kits for its First and Business Class customers in collaboration with luxury Italian brand Bvlgari. For travelling families, Emirates released its newest range of toys and activity packs in November to keep young travellers entertained – ‘Fly With Me Animals’, and ‘Fly With Me Lonely Planet Kids’ activity bags.

On the ground, Emirates expanded its lounge network with the opening of new facilities in Tokyo Narita and Los Angeles International airports, taking the total number of dedicated Emirates Lounges globally to 38. As well as its own network of worldwide lounges, passengers can relax in their partner lounges across all six continents. Here passengers flying First Class and Business Class or those who are an Emirates Skywards Platinum or Gold members travelling in Economy Class, can spend some quality time, before the next stage of their journey. Passengers travelling from Dublin can avail of the facilities of the daa executive lounge in Terminal 2.

Making it easier for customers to access their flight information and manage their travel, Emirates launched its mobile App for customers using the Android platform, and an App for Apple Watch designed to complement the popular Emirates iPhone app. Emirates also launched its mobile site in several languages including: Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Greek, Italian, Korean and Polish.

Economic contribution

Emirates lounge Dubai

Emirates lounge Dubai

Emirates continues to have an important positive impact on the economies of the markets it serves – through the provision of international air transport links that facilitate trade and tourism flows, direct employment through its growing business, and indirect employment through the aviation supply chain and the other industries reliant on commercial air transport.

In 2015, this effect was felt again through the aviation supply chain when Emirates announced a historic $9.2 billion (€8.5 billion) deal with Rolls-Royce for Trent 900 engines to power 50 of its A380 aircraft, and a long-term TotalCare package. The deal was the largest ever for Rolls-Royce, and one of the largest ever export orders for a UK-based company.

In November, Emirates signed a $16 billion (€14.77 billion) OnPoint solution agreement with GE Aviation for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the GE9X engines that will power the airline’s fleet of 150 Boeing 777X aircraft. Spanning 12 years, the deal is Emirates’ largest engine MRO contract to date, and also GE Aviation’s largest ever commercial jet engine award from an airline.

In March, a report by Frontier Economics was released, estimating that Emirates contributed €6.8 billion (€6.28 billion) to the economies of European Union countries in 2013 and 2014, supporting more than 85,000 jobs. Frontier also analysed European international air connectivity and concluded that Emirates provides 220 unique air connections that are not offered by any other airline or alliance.

In November, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in India released the results of an economic impact study that measured Emirates’ contribution to the Indian economy. NCAER estimated that Emirates’ operations contributed over $848 million (€782.94 million) annually to India’s GDP, supporting over 86,000 Indian jobs and generating almost $1.7 billion (€1.57 billion) in Foreign Exchange Earnings.

Emirates in Ireland

Emirates launch (Declan Collier, chief executive, DAA ;Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD ; Tim Clark, President Emirates Airlines)

Emirates launched the route between Dublin and Dubai back in 2012. At the launch were Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD; Declan Collier, Chief Executive, DAA; Tim Clark, President Emirates Airlines

Emirates employs over 30 people in Ireland and almost 500 Irish nationals at its hub in Dubai and the market has grown significantly since its arrival in Ireland. 395,518 persons travelled to and from Dubai in the 12 months to the end of September 2015. In August 22,190 customers, travelled from Dublin to Dubai and onwards to destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, China and Hong Kong. 20,277 travelled in the opposite direction giving a total of 42,467 for the month. A breakdown of these figures is given below:-

Traffic to Dubai to Sept 2015

Click to enlarge table

Over the winter, the route is operated by Boeing 777-300ERs, with the morning service, the EK161/2 arriving in Dublin at 11:20 and departing out to Dubai at 12:55. The evening service, the EK163/4 arrives in Dublin at 18:55 and returns to Dubai at 20:50.

Supporting communities and passions

Emirates remains the world’s most valuable airline brand, and in 2015 the airline’s brand value grew more than 21% to $6.6 billion (€6.09 billion), according to The Brand Finance Global 500 report. Through 2015, Emirates continued its support for a wide range of events, sports and other initiatives which brought the airline closer to its customers.

Emirates amplified its football presence when it announced that it will become the Lead Partner of The FA Cup, now called The Emirates FA Cup, until 2018. Closer to its home base, Emirates announced a three-year, AED 25 million agreement with the Arabian Gulf League where it became the Official Partner and Airline. In Portugal, Emirates extended its sponsorship of Benfica when it became shirt sponsor. Later in the year, Emirates Cabin Crew got Benfica fans cheering with a tongue in cheek “safety demonstration” on how to show support for the club, in an initiative which won hearts and became viral on social media.

In tennis, Emirates elevated its partnership with the ATP to become the Premier Partner of the ATP World Tour from 2016. The five-year agreement represented the biggest sponsorship deal in the history of the ATP.

In May, Emirates launched its ‘BeThere’ campaign showcasing its very own ‘globalista’ employees, who each travelled to different cities over six months – documenting their experience, and bringing to life the airline’s destinations through their own unique story-telling lens and passions for food, sports, music, fashion and adventure. In October, Emirates unveiled its highly-anticipated TV commercial featuring Hollywood actress, director and producer Jennifer Aniston, to great acclaim. To cap off the year,

Emirates’ flagship A380 and Jetman Dubai took to the skies for an extraordinary formation flight over some of Dubai’s key landmarks in a celebration of aviation that also went viral on social media.

Building on its existing programmes for environmental conservation, Emirates last year teamed up with ‘United for Wildlife’, a global collaboration that unites the efforts of the world’s leading wildlife charities, in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. The airline emblazoned two of its flagship A380 aircraft with special decals featuring endangered animal species, to raise global awareness on the issue. Emirates also ran consumer information campaigns via its inflight channels, and is collaborating with international organisations to train and better equip its ground and cargo staff to identify illegal wildlife products in transit.

In Dubai, Emirates signed up to sponsor ‘The Last Wilderness of the UAE’, a documentary series that will feature the United Arab Emirates’ remarkably rich biodiversity, which is scheduled to launch in late 2016.

Emirates and Boeing launch ‘View from Above’

Emirates and Boeing have partnered together to sponsor ‘View from Above’, one of the largest aerial filming projects ever conducted using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones. Filming was conducted in 18 destinations on five continents including Emirates’ hub in Dubai and Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ home, Seattle. Footage for Dubai was provided by Dubai Film. All of the films can be viewed here on the ‘View from Above’ site, enabling visitors to spin the globe to one of the 18 destinations (including Ireland), and be taken straight to their desired video. Over 13 qualified drone pilots from around the world worked on the filming project, which was produced and directed by MOFILM.

Jeppesen and Emirates implement crew management system

Jeppesen, a part of Boeing Commercial Aviation Services, has teamed up with Emirates, to optimise crew planning operations. Emirates has now fully entered Jeppesen Crew Rostering services into its operations, which was introduced to improve efficiency and lower costs related to crew management functions, while respecting crew preferences. Jeppesen Crew Rostering is a component of a family of crew management solutions that optimise operations and increase efficiency for airlines. Jeppesen Crew Rostering takes into account numerous factors to create efficient roster assignments, including crew preferences, and all relevant constraints on duty time, rest time, days off, time zones and other factors.

Emirates Group Releases 5th Annual Environmental Report

The Emirates Group, comprising Emirates airline and dnata, has also released its fifth annual environmental report for 2014-15. Key highlights included a continued reduction in aircraft noise emissions, a modest improvement in overall fleet fuel efficiency despite external operational challenges, and improvements in ground vehicle fuel efficiency. Emirates’ overall fuel efficiency in 2014-15 improved 1% to 0.3057 litres per tonne kilometre, 14% more efficient than the IATA fleet average fuel efficiency. The full report is available here.

Emirates signs agreement with German Police

Emirates has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bundespolizei, Germany’s Federal Police, which will enhance the effectiveness of travel documentation screening procedures and ensure a more efficient journey on flights to Germany.

Under the agreement, documentation checks at Dubai International Airport for passengers travelling to Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Dusseldorf will be conducted by specially trained Emirates personnel with extensive knowledge of Germany’s immigration procedures. The agreement also adds a secondary documentation screening check at the gate prior to boarding the aircraft.

The memorandum, which is the first of its kind between Germany’s Federal Police and an airline, will reduce the likelihood of transporting passengers without correct documentation. It will also reduce the time Emirates passengers spend going through immigration upon arrival in Germany. The new procedures have already been put into effect on all Emirates flights into the country. 

….and finally

Emirates and Airbus teamed up to search for the ultimate A380 fan in the UAE ahead of the Dubai Airshow in November. A Facebook competition, jointly organised by Emirates and Airbus, garnered over 1,000 entries in less than three days. To enter, participants had to express why they were ardent fans of the Emirates A380, in less than 380 words.

The winner, Yves Heye, became the envy of aviation enthusiasts when he was treated to a special VIP tour of the Emirates’ first two-class configured A380, which was unveiled at the Dubai Airshow.

Yves Heye’s winning streak did not end there. His tour concluded with the ‘Surprise of the Year’ when he was invited to visit Toulouse, France, for an exclusive tour of the A380 manufacturing facility. The ‘Ultimate A380 Fan’ flew to France in December on an Emirates A380 where he witnessed the A380 Final Assembly Line with an Emirates A380 currently under production.

He also visited the A380 mock-up cabin centre and other Airbus facilities. His dream trip concluded with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly an A380 from Toulouse to Marseille under the command of an Airbus test pilot in a true-to-life flight simulator.


About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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