Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, will round off 2014 as the airline with the world’s largest wide-body passenger fleet of 218 aircraft, in addition to 14 freighters.
Following two consecutive years of record deliveries and capacity increases, 2014 saw Emirates adding 27 aircraft – 13 Airbus A380s, 12 Boeing 777-300ERs two Boeing 777 freighters – to its fleet. These included its 50th A380 and its 100th 777-300ER aircraft, strengthening Emirates’ position as the world’s largest operator of both the A380 and 777. These modern and efficient aircraft not only help reduce environmental impact, but also enable Emirates to offer the latest facilities and comfort on board, according to a company statement.
Remarking on an eventful year marked by a series of external challenges, Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “This year we have navigated through an 80-day period of reduced operations due to upgrade works at our hub airport, regional conflicts which impacted our operations and flight routes, the Ebola outbreak, fluctuations in oil prices and currency exchange rates, and economic uncertainty in many markets worldwide.
“Despite all that, Emirates has continued to grow, adding capacity equivalent to a mid-sized airline while maintaining our seat load factors. We also expanded and strengthened our global network, which gives us the flexibility to cope with regional shocks and redeploy strategically to maximise opportunities. We deal with the short term challenges, but are not distracted from our long-term plans. This is why Emirates continues to invest heavily in new technology and initiatives to enhance our product offering and customer experience.”
Growth and connectivity
Since January 2014, Emirates has carried over 45 million passengers, operating 3,516 flights per week on average. The airline carried over 2.1 million tonnes of cargo, served over 47 million meals and flew 756 million kilometres – equivalent to circumnavigating the globe 18,552 times.
Emirates introduced services to eight new destinations this year, with each new point exponentially increasing the number of city-pair combinations that the airline offers to its leisure, business and cargo customers across its global network. The new cities launched in 2014 were: Kiev, Taipei, Boston, Abuja, Chicago, Oslo, Brussels and Budapest. In addition, Emirates added frequencies to 20 existing destinations, increasing flight choices for its customers.
Emirates’ deliveries paved the way for the launch of ten new A380 destinations including Zurich, Barcelona, London Gatwick, Kuwait, Mumbai, Frankfurt, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Milan and Houston. Emirates currently operates its highly-popular flagship A380 to 32 scheduled destinations. In 2014, Emirates also led one-off A380 services to Glasgow, Manila, Tehran and Vienna.
On the cargo front, Emirates SkyCargo marked a momentous year with the move of its freighter operations to Dubai World Central’s (DWC) Al Maktoum International Airport in May. Its new cargo terminal at DWC offers the capacity that positions Emirates SkyCargo for future growth, and enables the cargo division to provide a better experience for its customers.
Technology to improve customer experience
Emirates continues to be a trailblazer for on-board connectivity, investing over $20 million a year to install and operate inflight connectivity systems. Wi-Fi services are available on over 80 aircraft in Emirates’ fleet, and the airline is looking to roll it out across all its aircraft.
More importantly, Emirates is subsidising or waiving the high cost of data for its passengers. Emirates is updating the software to eventually give passengers unlimited and free access to Wi-Fi. Right now, passengers enjoy the first 10 MB of data free on most Emirates A380 aircraft. They pay a token $1 for the next 500 MB.
This year, Emirates introduced the Emirates App for iPad and iPhone, which became an instant hit. The iPhone version was downloaded by more than 180,000 users in its first six weeks of launch. Emirates’ mobile apps allow customers to conveniently manage every aspect of their booking. The Emirates App for iPhone also features the ability to check-in and download boarding passes directly to Passbook. It sends notifications for check-in, flight boarding, gate changes, baggage belt numbers, and much more.
Emirates and Dubai – growing together
From May to July, Emirates grounded 20 aircraft and reduced flights to over 40 destinations for 80 days while Dubai International airport undertook maintenance and upgraded the runways. As the biggest operator at DXB, Emirates also took the biggest hit, but the essential infrastructure upgrade was completed successfully and added much needed capacity to the airport.
In November, a report by Oxford Economics estimated that the overall economic impact of both aviation and tourism-related activities will rise to $53.1 billion in 2020, or 37.5% of Dubai’s GDP, and support over 754,500 Dubai-based jobs. This year, Emirates launched a $20 million ‘see you in Dubai’ campaign in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), to promote Dubai around the world.
Connecting people and passions
A strong brand is an important business differentiator and, in February, Emirates was named the most valuable airline brand for the third consecutive year in the Brand Finance Global 500 report, with a brand value of $5.48 billion.
Emirates’ prominent global sponsorships continued to contribute to its brand awareness and affinity. In 2014, Emirates ran a successful global campaign featuring football superstars Pelé and Cristiano Ronaldo. Coinciding with the FIFA World Cup, the campaign generated over 260 million views.
In July, Emirates signed a three-year deal with Benfica, Portugal’s most successful football club, to become its Official Airline Partner until 2016. Early December saw Emirates and AC Milan signing a new five-year sponsorship deal which will extend the airline’s presence on the club’s shirts until 2019-2020.
In September, Emirates connected music fans with its sponsorship of Arab Idol Season 3, the popular reality TV show watched by Arab audiences all around the world. Emirates also strengthened its commitment to tennis when it signed with the Australian Open for a new Grand Slam partnership, launching a multi-year deal.
In January, Emirates announced a sponsorship agreement for the Rugby World Cup 2015 and 2019. Emirates also extended its sponsorship of the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) match officials until the end of 2019. It was the first time in Rugby World Cup (RWC) history that rights were given to brand the shirts of match officials during the tournament. Emirates also signed a deal with the Lions, one of South Africa’s top rugby teams, for a five-year sponsorship agreement in December.