Emirates aims to become biggest airline this decade

By K.S. Ramkumar, Arab News Staff
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2002-11-06 03:00

JEDDAH, 6 November — Emirates Airlines is planning to launch flights to the United States, particularly New York, according to its top management executive.

“Today, we service 61 destinations and have drawn up a plan to fly to North America from June, with more destinations in Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Far East and Australia,” Mohamed Salem Humaid, regional manager of Emirates for Saudi Arabia, told reporters during the airline’s annual awards ceremony at Laylaty Hall here on Sunday night.

Claiming the 17-year-old airline to be the “fastest growing airline in the world” with its fleet of 38 Boeing and Airbus aircraft averaging less than three years old, Humaid said: “Our network is constantly expanding. We plan to be the biggest global airline during this decade.”

The airline ended the last financial year with a record profit of $127 million, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year, he added.

Asked about the impact of 9/11 on the airline, he said: “After 9/11 the whole aviation industry the world over, especially in the United States, panicked. So passengers cancelled their bookings to North America and wondered when they should travel. This situation continued through October 2001. But it was only a month thereafter our airline recorded highest business. We followed some procedure and advised our passengers about their travel plans. This paid dividends. Yes, we also had a setback like many other world airlines, but we recovered soon.”

The airline will operate special Haj flights like in the past. “We don’t have the exact number of Haj flights we are operating this year. Like other airlines, we have been carrying a lot of Umrah pilgrims throughout the year,” he said. The airline operates weekly five flights each from Jeddah and Riyadh and three others from Dammam.

“We are part of the arrangements that the Dubai government makes during its two major annual events — Dubai Shopping and Dubai Summer festivals. Our daily arrivals are 700,000 to a million, but during the festivals arrivals exceed 12 million. They come from all parts of the Gulf, Middle East, the Indian subcontinent many other parts of the world,” he said.

The airline, which introduced Osaka as one of its destinations recently, will consider operating to China and Russia, according to him. The airline presented awards to its passenger sales and cargo agents for their performance during 2001-2002.

Passenger sales agents included Saudi Tourist & Travel Bureau, Saddik & Mohamed Attar, Tamara Travel & Services, Saudi United Travel, Alrajhi Aviation, Jouf Travel, Alhabbash Travel & Tourism, Airwings Travel, Caravan Travel and Kanoo Travel.

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