The milestones in Emirates’ incredible journey

Emirates is one of the world’s fastest growing airlines. Based in Dubai, Emirates connects people all over the world to a network of over 150 destinations. Emirates’ superior on board products and services, welcoming cabin crew and modern all wide-body fleet are world renowned.As the largest carrier in the Gulf, Emirates is known around the world for sponsoring some of the biggest sports teams, becoming a true powerhouse in the world of aviation. In just 32 years, the airline has gone from operating just three flights with four lease aircraft to operating a fleet of 256 aircraft to 152 destinations around the world. The Dubai-based airline also currently operates one of the youngest fleets in the world, a task that is not to be taken lightly due to the immense size of the fleet.While the airline continues to build out its future, it becomes just as important to take a step back to learn more about the history of how Emirates grew to become the giant that it is today.

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The 1980s was when the ‘Emirates’ brand turned from a concept to reality. The idea for Emirates was brought up when Gulf Air, who were operating flights in and out of Dubai at that time, had decided to cut back on its number of flights. This move by the airline became increasingly concerning for those in Dubai, fearing that they were helping other airlines by only serving as regional feeder flights.It was the year 1984 when Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid AL Maktoum and Sir Maurice Flanagan sat down to discuss launching a new airline in Dubai. Sir Flanagan was appointed to set up a new airline with $10 million, entrusted after his success of working at Dnata, or the Dubai National Air Transport Association. The airline soon found its business model, leaving just the name to be decided. With both Dubai Airlines and Emirates, he only put two names on the table, Sheikh Mohammed opted for his country’s new airline to be called Emirates. One year later, the $10 million capital investment was soon repaid, concluding a successful start-up of the carrier.Following the launch of Emirates on March 25, 1985, the airline was required to work and function without any state subsidies from its government. With Sheikh Ahamed as Chairman and Sir Maurice as CEO, the airline started its journey. Tim Clark, who would become the future president of the airline, had also begun to work for Emirates at this time. Without enough money to purchase aircraft, a deal was made with Pakistan International Airlines who agreed to the wet-lease of two aircraft, a brand new Boeing 737-300 and an Airbus A300 B4-200.

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The 1980s was when the ‘Emirates’ brand turned from a concept to reality. The idea for Emirates was brought up when Gulf Air, who were operating flights in and out of Dubai at that time, had decided to cut back on its number of flights. This move by the airline became increasingly concerning for those in Dubai, fearing that they were helping other airlines by only serving as regional feeder flights.It was the year 1984 when Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid AL Maktoum and Sir Maurice Flanagan sat down to discuss launching a new airline in Dubai. Sir Flanagan was appointed to set up a new airline with $10 million, entrusted after his success of working at Dnata, or the Dubai National Air Transport Association. The airline soon found its business model, leaving just the name to be decided. With both Dubai Airlines and Emirates, he only put two names on the table, Sheikh Mohammed opted for his country’s new airline to be called Emirates. One year later, the $10 million capital investment was soon repaid, concluding a successful start-up of the carrier.Following the launch of Emirates on March 25, 1985, the airline was required to work and function without any state subsidies from its government. With Sheikh Ahamed as Chairman and Sir Maurice as CEO, the airline started its journey. Tim Clark, who would become the future president of the airline, had also begun to work for Emirates at this time. Without enough money to purchase aircraft, a deal was made with Pakistan International Airlines who agreed to the wet-lease of two aircraft, a brand new Boeing 737-300 and an Airbus A300 B4-200.On top of this, the Dubai Royal family gifted Emirates two additional aircraft from the Dubai Royal Air Wing, giving the airline two Boeing 727-200 aircraft. Emirates then moved quickly to secure deals and routes, with agreements for flights to Karachi, New Delhi, and Bombay. Emirates then conducted its first commercial service flight on Oct. 25, 1985 to Karachi under the flight number EK600.Emirates would go on to have an outstanding first year as a new carrier. In fact, they were so successful in their first year of operation that Gulf Air saw a 56 percent drop in profits, which then moved onto a further loss the following year. In the year that followed, Emirates would grow so quickly that they opened an additional four routes, offering its customers flights to Amman, Colombo, Cairo, and Dhaka. The airline continued to move forward and in 1987 with the purchase of their first ever new aircraft: an Airbus A310. The airplane was built to specifications that Emirates had put forward to Airbus in their bid to offer passengers a superior flying experience compared to its rivals.Emirates had now in the first seven years of its life been recording a steady average growth rate of 30 percent. In 1988 Emirates adds Damascus to its route network, becoming the 12th destination around the world, in only 38 months of business.

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