2016 marks another year of stellar success for Emirates

The Dubai flag carrier has rounded off another year of growth with milestones including it becoming the only airline whose fleet is entirely made up of superjumbos.

An Emirates Boeing 777-300 ER. The carrier is now the only airline with a fleet consisting entirely of 777s and Airbus A380s. Courtesy / Boeing
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Emirates, the world’s largest international airline and the only one with an all Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet, has rounded off another year of soaring growth in 2016.

“Consumer appetite for travel has remained resilient, despite socio-economic and political headwinds around the globe, and that is reflected in our operational growth,” said Sir Tim Clark, the president of Emirates Airline. “Emirates will continue on our strategy of organic growth, leveraging on the geo-centricity of the UAE, and Dubai’s dynamic developments in tourism and commerce. We will also continue to invest in our product and services so as to offer our customers an outstanding experience and value proposition while they discover the world.”

Emirates scaled up its fleet in 2016 with the addition of 36 new aircraft, consisting of 20 A380s and 16 Boeing 777-300ERs, while retiring 29 older aircraft. The airline ends the year with 255 aircraft in service, with an average age of five years, significantly below the industry average of more than 11 years.

The carrier said keeping its fleet young not only minimises Emirates’ overall carbon footprint, but it also enables the airline to put the latest products and services onboard its aircraft.

In January, Emirates teamed up with Boeing to sponsor View from Above, one of the largest aerial filming projects ever conducted using drones. Filming was conducted by 13 drone pilots in 18 destinations including Dubai and Sydney on five continents capturing never before seen footage of popular destinations.

In February, Emirates made its first foray into Major League Baseball as the Official Airline sponsor of the Los Angeles Dodgers. A few months later, Emirates cabin crew shared a fun safety-inspired demonstration with the help of Dodger legend Orel Herscheiser.

In April, the airline celebrated the spirit of cricket with a witty, Bollywood inspired Welcome onboard demo at the ICC World Twenty20 Final between England and West Indies, entertaining a packed stadium of 66,000 fans. Also in April, Emirates placed an order for two additional A380 aircraft, taking its total A380 order book to 142, cementing its position as the world's largest operator of the popular double-decker aircraft.

In June, with Emirates taking delivery of its newest generation Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft this year, the carrier welcomed its 80th Airbus superjumbo.

As revealed by The National in October, Emirates topped The Brand Finance Global 500 report as the world's most valuable airline brand in 2016, with the airline's brand value growing more than 17 per cent to $7.7 billion. Also in October, Emirates returned with Hollywood actress, director and producer Jennifer Aniston for another fun global advertising campaign that showcased the iconic Emirates A380.

Throughout 2016, Emirates continued to use sports, musical and cultural events as a platform to engage with its customers and fans.

Also in October, Emirates returned with Hollywood actress, director and producer Jennifer Aniston for another fun global advertising campaign that showcased the iconic Emirates A380.

And in the same month, Emirates signed an agreement with Thales to equip its Boeing 777X fleet with the Thales AVANT in-flight entertainment system, debuting in mid-2020. With the airline now operating an all-Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet, this means customers on all Emirates flights can access on-demand entertainment with up to 2,600 channels of movies, music, TV shows, games and more, to choose from.

Reflecting the increasingly connected digital lifestyle, over 8.8 million Emirates passengers connected to Wi-Fi on board in 2016. In addition, more than 400,000 phone calls were made in-flight, and 1.7 million SMS messages were transmitted by passengers.

In November Emirates became the only airline to operate an all Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet, further elevating the passenger experience onboard through a modern, state-of-the-art wide-body fleet.

Also in November, Emirates Group revealed revenue reached Dh6.1 billion for the first six months of its 2015-16 financial year, down 2.3 per cent from Dh47.2bn during the same period last year, reflecting the impact of the strong US dollar against major currencies.

Despite that, the group marked one of its best half-year profit performances ever, with net profit rising to Dh3.7bn, up 65 per cent over the past year’s results. The group’s cash position on 30th September 2015 was at Dh14.8bn, compared to Dh20bn as at March 31 2015. This is due to ongoing investments mainly into new aircraft, airline related infrastructure projects, and business acquisitions.

Also that month, the carrier teamed up with Dubai Miracle Garden to construct the world’s largest floral installation through a life-size version of the Emirates A380, covered in more than 500,000 fresh flowers and living plants. Over 200 people worked for 180 days to build, layer and mount the foliage on the 30 tonne steel structure. The aircraft structure even includes moving engine fans and other key design features that capture the essence of the original aircraft design.

The real new Airbus A380 has several notable new features including an enhanced seat configuration in Economy Class, and a higher ceiling in the business class cabin for a more spacious feel. The airline received its fir A380 powered by Rollys-Royce engines today, despite delaying an order for a dozen others with the same poweplants yesterday. Emirates’ new Boeing 777-300ERs delivered from November also feature the airline’s new business class seat.

The carrier added seven new passenger routes and one cargo destination in 2016, rounding off the year with 154 destinations in its global network. The airline’s new passenger services in 2016 were: Cebu and Clark in the Philippines; Yinchuan and Zhengzhou in China; Yangon in Myanmar; Hanoi in Vietnam; Fort Lauderdale in the United State; and cargo-only destination Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

Emirates also expanded its A380 network to 44 destinations with the addition of eight new points. Today it operates the longest A380 service in the world from Dubai to Auckland, and also the world’s shortest A380 service to Doha. Emirates also led one-off A380 services to two destinations – Chicago in the US, and Amman in Jordan.

This year, the airline unveiled its enhanced business class seat on its Boeing 777, which features a pitch of 72 inches that can be moved into a fully flat 180-degree sleeping position, a personal mini-bar, as well as one of the industry’s largest personal TV screens at 23 inches with the ability to stream personal mobile content.

For its premium passengers, Emirates rolled out a range of enhancements onboard with luxury in mind. New additions in first class included the world’s first moisturising lounge wear designed for an airline, keeping skin hydrated during the flight. New blankets were introduced including plush faux sheep-skin blankets for first class and soft duvets for business class passengers.

In economy class, Emirates launched the world’s first interactive amenity kit to provide a more comfortable travel experience. The stylish new amenity kits utilised augmented reality (AR) technology to unlock immersive content on mobile devices.

Emirates was named World’s Best Airline 2016 at the Skytrax World Airline Awards and the airline invested in a series of product developments and service enhancements, both in the air and on the ground.

On the ground, investments continued in upgrading the lounge experience. Emirates this year completed a US$11 million refurbishment of its business class lounge at Concourse B in Dubai. The airline also extended its dedicated lounge network with the opening of its lounge in Cape Town.

Emirates also began offering customers greater flexibility to check in for their flights by extending check-in in times from 24 hours to 48 hours.

Building on the strength of its loyalty programmes, the airline’s frequent flyer programme Emirates Skywards marked a milestone of 16 million members by launching Cash+Miles. The flight redemption programme allows members to redeem a combination of cash and Skywards Miles on any Emirates flight, reducing the cost of tickets and making any seat available for members. The airline also revamped its corporate loyalty programme, Emirates Business Rewards.

In a joint effort to promote reading and literacy, Emirates partnered with Google in an initiative called Celebrating Arabic Reading. This initiative aimed to reach millions of smartphone users and make Arabic books more accessible with unprecedented discounts of up to 90 per cent on online books at the Google Play Books store in nine countries in the Middle East, and support the UAE’s Year of Reading. So far, the initiative has reached over 120 million people in the region.

*Flight figures are for the calendar year 2016


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