Emirates airlines is set to become the largest long-haul airline in the world, when the 16.7 million passengers it carried in 2006 grows to 33 million by 2012, according to company officials.
And the airline achieved a new high last week when it flew to its 100th destination, touching down in Cape Town, South Africa.
Launched as a small carrier set up by the Government of Dubai on May 25, 1985, the first flight was to Karachi with a plane leased from Pakistan International Airline. Today, the Middle East’s largest international airline has 114 planes in operation and 243 on order worth $60 billion (Dh220bn).
“Assuming the current aircraft orders are maintained then, at present, it looks like Emirates will be the largest international airline by 2012,” said Mike Simon, Emirates’ senior vice-president, Corporate Communications.
Simon added that the airline’s success mirrored that of Dubai itself.
“Dubai has turned itself into a tourism, commerce and marketing hub and created a destination in its own right. Emirates has been serving Dubai’s growth and we are feeding on each other’s success.”
Emirates continues to break new ground and was the first passenger airline to allow mobile telephone calls in March.
Brian Pearce, the International Air Transport Association’s chief economist, said in terms of fleet growth, Emirates has added about one new aircraft every month for the past three years.
“Over the next 10 years they have deliveries scheduled of between 15 to 20 new aircraft per year – all widebodies and more than a third being A380s superjumbos. Emirates expansion in long-haul markets… is turning them into a formidable competitor,” he explained.
To cope with this growth Dubai International Airports’ new Terminal Three will be exclusively for Emirates and will accommodate 43 million passengers a year.
Emirates has three new routes planned this year to Kozhikode in south India, Guangzhou, China and Los Angeles, United States.
Come 2012 Emirates will be on top