Ease of accessibility is at the top of the list for meeting planners when choosing a destination and Dubai’s strategic location within eight hours’ flying time of two thirds of the world’s population makes it hard to beat. Add to this the phenomenal airlift offered by its two airlines, Emirates Airline and flydubai, and that’s one box even the most demanding planner can tick off the list.
During the financial year April 1 2015 to March 31 2016, Emirates carried a record 51.9 million passengers, up eight percent year-on-year and crossing the 50 million passenger milestone. The airline increased capacity during the year by 11 percent, receiving 29 new aircraft, its highest number during a financial year, including 16 A380s, 12 Boeing 777-300ERs and one Boeing 777F, bringing its total fleet count to 251, as of March 2016. Emirates remains the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777 and A380 – which serves one out of every four destinations on its network.
With the delivery of new aircraft, Emirates launched eight new passenger destinations: Bali, Bologna, Cebu, Clark, Istanbul (Sabiha Gökçen), Mashhad, Multan, Orlando; and two new additional freighter destinations: Columbus and Ciudad del Este. It also added services and capacity to 34 cities on its existing route network across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America, offering customers even greater choice and connectivity.
Despite increased competitive pressure across all markets, the airline recorded a profit of AED7.1 billion (US$1.9 billion) in 2015-16, an increase of 56 percent over 2014-15 results. Overall, parent company The Emirates Group announced its 28th consecutive year of profit and steady business expansion, ending the year with record profits and in a strong position despite the global and operational challenges during this period.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: “Our ongoing investments to develop our people and to enhance business performance enable us to react with agility to the new challenges and opportunities that every year brings. In 2015-16, the Group collectively invested over AED17.3 billion (US$4.7 billion) in new aircraft and equipment, the acquisition of companies, modern facilities, the latest technologies and staff initiatives. These will build on our strong foundations, extend our competitive edge, and accelerate our progress towards our long-term goals.”
In line with its customer-focused proposition, Emirates invested over AED80 million (US$21.9 million) last year to install and operate in-flight connectivity across its fleet, which is now 70 percent Wi-Fi enabled. The airline also launched revamped amenity kits for First and Business class, unveiled an enhanced fully-flat Business class seat for its 777-300ER fleet, and launched its two-class A380 featuring the largest personal in-flight entertainment screens in Economy.
Emirates also opened new dedicated airport lounges in Tokyo and Cape Town, taking the number of dedicated Emirates Lounges across the world to 39, having invested more than US$352 million (AED1.3 billion) in its lounge programme since inception.
For 2016-17, Emirates has announced new routes to Yinchuan and Zhengzhou in China, Yangon in Myanmar and Hanoi in Vietnam, aside from capacity upgrades to existing destinations.
Emirates’ younger sibling, flydubai, also had a record year in 2015. The airline carried 9.04 million passengers across its network, a healthy 25 percent increase on 2014. In total, 81,530 flights were flown during the year and the 50th aircraft was delivered.
Business Class was introduced on 17 new routes in 2015, representing 87 percent of all its departures from Dubai and as a result, flydubai saw the number of passengers from across its network who travelled in Business Class increase by 72 percent compared to 2014.
In total, flydubai launched 18 new destinations including Asmara, Astana, Chennai, Gizan, Jouf, Quetta and Shiraz. Some existing routes performed exceptionally well, with flydubai accounting for 15 percent of the total passenger growth from India. Closer to home, and flydubai’s comprehensive network across the GCC (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman) saw passenger numbers grow by 18 percent.
Since its launch in 2009, flydubai has opened 59 destinations on its network that were previously underserved. In 2015, this meant flydubai contributed 29 percent of the total increase in passengers using Dubai’s airports.
Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai, commented: “We have been focused on increasing access to Dubai and during the last two years we have launched 41 new routes. In support of our expansion plans, we have continued to create demand for travel whilst maintaining the efficiency of our operations and meeting the needs of our passengers.”
The airline is already driving demand at its second hub, Dubai World Central, with routes to Amman, Beirut, Doha, and Kuwait, among others.