Emirates Airlines

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JANUARY 29, 2014

JUAN ALCÁCER
JOHN CLAYTON

Emirates Airline: Connecting the Unconnected
Introduction
Late afternoon was fading to dusk as Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, gazed out at the large crowds mingling outside at the 2013 Dubai Airshow. Front and center at the event was the official program launch of the Boeing 777X, a massive new hit thanks to Emirates’ record order of 150 new planes. Valued at $76 billion at list prices, this was the largest airplane deal ever inked. Letting his thoughts drift, he noted, he imagined with pride these planes joining the collection of widebodied Emirates planes assembled on the tarmac of Dubai International Airport, ready to ferry passengers from Europe, Asia,
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As the sunset reflected its dying rays on the aircraft on display, he pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind and returned to the event at hand.

Aviation in the Middle East
The 1980s aviation market in the Middle East was dominated by Gulf Air, a regional carrier backed by the states of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the emirate of Abu Dhabi. While several European carriers serviced the region, the overall market was small and Gulf Air maintained a high market share. The majority of its flights emanated from its four hub cities to points in the Middle East, South
Asia, and Europe, primarily on a point-to-point network.
As a non-core city for Gulf Air, Dubai experienced reductions in air service in 1985 that compelled
Dubai’s leaders to launch its own airline. Local airline expertise was minimal, so the royal family commissioned a small team of expatriate airline veterans, helmed by Sir Maurice Flanagan, to charter the service they named Emirates. Divisional Senior Vice President (SVP) of Corporate
Communications, Marketing & Brand Boutros Boutros remarked, “Locals or expats, management all had the same outlook and shared mentality, which ultimately helped build a successful and cohesive executive team.”6 Armed with only two planes and $10 million in seed capital provided by the
Government of Dubai, the airline initially developed a regional focus to connect underserved markets. Emirates
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