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Terminal 3 at DXB
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INTRO

The milestones in Emirates’ incredible journey

Review the key moments in our airline’s history and how we grew from modest beginnings to become a global aviation player recognized for our industry-leading products and services.

1984

An airline is born

In 1984, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, then UAE Minister of Defense and a member of Dubai’s progressive royal family, asked Sir Maurice Flanagan, then managing director of dnata, to look into starting an airline. By December that year, a comprehensive business plan was ready, and the name “Emirates” was chosen for the new airline.
Mr Flanagan's mission

1985

A clear mission

In March 1985, Maurice Flanagan was tasked with the ambitious mission to launch an airline in 5 months with $10 million seed funding. He was told that the airline had to “look good, be good, and make money”. There would be no subsidies or aeropolitical protection under Dubai’s open skies policy.

1985

First flights from Dubai

On 25 October 1985, Emirates operated its flights from Dubai to Karachi and Mumbai, using a Boeing 737 and an Airbus 300 B4 wet-leased from Pakistan International Airlines.
First bought aircraft

1987

First owned aircraft

On 3 July 1987, A6-EKA flew from Toulouse to Dubai as Emirates took delivery of its first owned aircraft, an Airbus A310-304.

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First destinations

In its first 5 years of operations, Emirates grew its network to 14 destinations

1985- Dubai, Mumbai, Delhi, Karachi, 1986- Amman, Colombo, Cairo, Dhaka, 1987- Male, London Gatwick, Frankfurt, Istanbul, 1988- Damascus, 1989- Jeddah, Kuwait

ICE is born

1992

Setting a new standard

Emirates leads the way for inflight entertainment, becoming the first airline to install video systems in all seats, in every cabin class throughout its fleet.

1992

A new terminal at DXB

In 1992, Dubai International airport completed a major refurbishment, and Emirates moved into a new $2 million departure terminal.

1992

First 777 order makes global headlines

Emirates’ order for 7 Boeing 777s with 7 options signaled its ambitions was a vote of confidence for the industry hard hit by the first Gulf War.

1993

Pioneering inflight connectivity

Emirates becomes the first airline to introduce telecommunications on an Airbus, in all three classes.

1994

Fax services in the sky

Emirates becomes the first airline to equip its Airbus fleet with an inflight fax facility for customers to stay in touch while in the air.
Emirates Air Lanka

1998

Emirates buys 43% stake in Air Lanka

Emirates Group takes a 43% stake in Air Lanka (later renamed SriLankan), and signs a 10-year management contract.

1998

Terminal 2 opens at DXB

The new Terminal 2 opens at Dubai International, expanding capacity at the airport by 2 million passengers per year.

1999

Dubai’s growth as an aviation hub

Passenger arrivals at Dubai international hit the 11 million mark. That financial year (1999-2000), Emirates carried 4.7 million passengers on its fleet of 32 aircraft.

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routes added during the 1990s

By the turn of the millennium, Emirates had grown its global network to 50 destination cities

1990- Riyadh, Tehran, Singapore,Manila, Manchester, 1991- London Heathrow, Hong Kong, Beirut, 1992- Paris, Rome, Zurich, Jakarta, 1993- Dammam, Muscat, 1994- Nice, Larnaca, 1995- Johannesburg, Nairobi, 1996- Athens, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, 1997- Dar-es-Salaam, 1998- Malta, Peshawar, 1999- Islamabad, Lahore, Munich

2000

Sheikh Rashid Terminal opens

The Sheikh Rashid Terminal opens, increasing capacity at Dubai International to 22 million passengers a year.

2000

First airline to sign up for Airbus A380

Emirates becomes the first airline to sign up for the Airbus A380, ordering seven with options for five more at the Farnborough Air Show. The world’s largest commercial aircraft will become a flagship of the Emirates fleet over the next two decades.

2004

The GBP100 million deal with Arsenal

Emirates signs a GBP100 million deal with English Premiership club Arsenal, including naming rights to its new stadium for 15 years and shirt sponsorship for eight years, starting from the 2006/07 season.

Renewed in 2012 and 2018, this is the longest running shirt partnership in the Premier League, and one of the longest relationships in world sports.

2005

Largest Boeing 777 order in history

Emirates makes history with an order for 42 Boeing 777s in a deal worth $9.7 billion. This was the largest-ever Boeing 777 order at the time. Today, Emirates is the world’s biggest operator of 777 aircraft.

2008

Emirates Terminal 3 opens at DXB

The Emirates-dedicated Terminal 3 saw 500,000 passengers depart from the facility within its first month of operation.

2007

Emirates Flight Catering

Emirates Flight Catering begins operations at its new USD 120 million facility at Dubai International.

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routes added from 2000-2010

Expanding global network

2000- Bahrain, Sydney, Entebbe, Milan, Chennai, Birmingham, 2001- Dusseldorf, Hyderabad, 2002- Casablanca, Khartoum, Perth, Mauritius, Osaka, Kochi, 2003- Moscow, Auckland, Brisbane, 2004- Lagos, Accra, Shanghai, Glasgow, Vienna, New York, Christchurch, 2005- Seychelles, Seoul, Thiruvananthapuram, 2006- Abidjan, Hamburg, Kolkata, Addis Ababa, Beijing, Tunis, Bengaluru, 2007- Venice, Newcastle, Sao Paulo, Ahmedabad, Toronto, Houston, 2008- Cape Town, Guangzhou, Los Angeles, San Francisco, 2009- Durban, Luanda

2010

Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International

Al Maktoum International airport opens at Dubai World Central, and welcomes its first commercial flights. Emirates SkyCargo moves freighter operations to DWC by 2014.

2012

Emirates-Qantas partnership

Emirates and Qantas sign an extensive commercial partnership to give customers of both airlines seamless Australian and international network connections, exclusive frequent flyer benefits and world-class travel experiences. The 10-year partnership goes beyond codesharing and includes integrated network collaboration with co-ordinated pricing, sales and scheduling as well as a benefit-sharing model.

2013

World's first A380 concourse

Concourse A, the world’s first purpose-built A380 facility opens at Dubai International, expanding the airport’s capacity to 75 million per year.

Home to Emirates’ A380 fleet, Concourse A features dedicated Emirates First and Business Class lounges spanning over 19,000 m2, with direct boarding to the upper deck of the A380 aircraft.

Most Valuable Airline Brand

2014

Most valuable airline brand

Emirates is named the world’s “Most valuable airline brand”, and the Middle East’s most valuable brand by Brand Finance, with an estimated value of USD 3.7 billion.

2016

Emirates named world's best airline

Emirates is named the World’s Best Airline and receives its 12th consecutive award for Best In-Flight Entertainment at Skytrax World Airline Awards 2016.

2017

flydubai partnership

Emirates and flydubai announce strategic partnership, including an expansive codeshare agreement, schedule alignment and network optimization.

2017

Introducing the “game changer”

Emirates launches the world’s first fully-enclosed First Class private suites, with unmatched luxury and privacy. This game changer, with design touches inspired by Mercedes Benz, was introduced in a global ad campaign fronted by TV celebrity and motoring expert, Jeremy Clarkson.

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routes added from 2010 to 2019

Connecting the world to, and through, Dubai

2010- Tokyo-Narita, Amsterdam, Prague, Madrid, Dakar, Medina, 2011- Basra, Geneva, Copenhagen, St Petersburg, Baghdad, 2012- Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Lusaka, Harare, Dallas Fort Worth, Seattle, Ho Chi Minh, Barcelona, Lisbon, Washington DC, Adelaide, Lyon, Phuket, 2013- Warsaw, Algiers, Tokyo-Haneda, Stockholm, Clark, Conakry, Sialkot, Kabul, 2014- Taipei, Boston, Abuja, Chicago, Oslo, Brussels, Budapest, 2015- Bali, Orlando, Bologna, Istanbul via Sabiha Gökçen Airport, 2016- Cebu, Hanoi, Yangon, Fort Lauderdale, 2017- Newark, Zagreb, Phnom Penh, 2018- London Stansted, Santiago de Chile, Edinburgh, 2019- Porto, Mexico City (from 9 December)