The milestones in Emirates’ incredible journey

About us

History

The milestones in Emirates’ incredible journey

History

On October 25, 1985, Emirates flew its first routes out of Dubai with just two aircraft—a leased Boeing 737 and an Airbus 300 B4.

Then, as now, our goal was quality, not quantity. In the years since taking those first small steps onto the regional travel scene, we've evolved into a globally influential travel and tourism leader known the world over for our commitment to quality.

With a fleet of more than 230 aircraft, we currently fly to more than 150 destinations in more than 80 countries around the world. More than 1,500 Emirates flights depart Dubai each week on their way to destinations on six continents, and our network is expanding constantly. Read on to find out more.

2016

  • 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.
  • Emirates opens new SkyPharma facility at Dubai International airport, dedicated exclusively to the secure transport of pharmaceuticals.
  • Jennifer Aniston meets a new friend and explores Emirates Economy Class with her second advertising campaign for Emirates.
  • Emirates Skywards celebrates 16 years of operation with 16 million members.
  • Emirates adds 6 new destinations to its global network—Yangon, Hanoi, Yinchuan, Zhengzhou, Cebu, and Clark.
  • Emirates' brand value grows 17% to reach US$7.7 billion.
  • In social media, Emirates becomes the world’s first airline with 1 million Instagram followers and launches the world’s first interactive amenity kit in Economy Class.

2015

  • Emirates launches daily flights to Bologna, Orlando, Mashhad, Multan, Bamako, and Bali and resumes flights to Erbil.
  • Jennifer Aniston wakes up to comfort and luxury on Emirates with a new advertising campaign.
  • Emirates sweeps the 2015 APEX Passenger Choice Awards with seven wins, receives four titles at the Business Traveller Awards, and is proud to receive its 11th consecutive Skytrax Award for Best In-Flight Entertainment.
  • The Emirates A380 and Jetman Dubai take to the skies for a formation flight.
  • Emirates’ social media customer service begins to provide 24-hour support in English and Arabic.
  • Emirates signs a historic US$9.2 billion order with Rolls-Royce for 200 A380 engines.
  • Emirates sees its brand value grow for the 4th consecutive year, to US$6.6 billion. The airline also retains its top position as the most valuable airline brand in the world.
  • The Emirates App for the Apple Watch is launched.
  • Emirates celebrates a milestone in its employee history, with its cabin crew team growing to 20,000 members.

2014

  • Emirates brings its A380 to India with a first-ever display at the Hyderabad Air Show.
  • Emirates launches flights to Boston, its eighth gateway in the USA.
  • Emirates is named the world’s Most Valuable Airline Brand.
  • Emirates expands its social media footprint with the launch of its official Twitter channel.
  • Football legends Pelé and Cristiano Ronaldo star as global ambassadors for the airline in Emirates’ global campaign to connect sports fans around the world.
  • Emirates becomes the first airline to offer scheduled A380 service at London Gatwick.

2013

  • Double daily A380 services to Paris Charles de Gaulle and New York JFK are introduced.
  • Concourse A opens at Dubai International—the world’s first dedicated A380 facility and home of the Emirates A380.
  • London Heathrow becomes an all A380 route, following the launch of the fifth daily A380 service.
  • Emirates opens its 35th dedicated airline lounge at Milan Malpensa airport.
  • Qantas and Emirates launch their partnership, offering 98 weekly flights between Dubai and Australia.

2012

  • Emirates joins Boeing in Seattle to celebrate the unveiling of the manufacturer's 1,000th 777. The landmark aircraft becomes the 102nd to join Emirates’ Boeing 777 fleet. 
  • Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Lusaka, Harare, Dallas, Seattle, Ho Chi Minh City, Barcelona, Lisbon, and Washington join the Emirates network and a cargo-only service launches to Liege. 
  • dnata acquires a majority stake in Travel Republic, the largest privately owned online travel agency in the UK, completing one of the biggest transactions in the company’s history. 
  • Marhaba celebrates its 20th anniversary and unveils a new look. 
  • In tennis, Emirates becomes the Official Airline of the US Open and title sponsor of the Emirates Airline US Open Series. 
  • Emirates becomes the Team Sponsor of cricket’s Indian Premier League side Deccan Chargers.

2011

  • Emirates places the largest single order in Boeing’s history—50 777-300 ER aircraft, worth US$18 billion at list price. The order also includes 20 777-300 ER options valued at US$8 billion.
  • The Emirates Group posts a record profit of AED 5.9 billion (US$1.6 billion) for the fiscal year.
  • Basra, Geneva, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, and Baghdad are added to the Emirates network and cargo-only service to Erbil is launched.
  • Shanghai, Johannesburg, Munich, and Rome are added to Emirates’ A380 network.
  • Emirates becomes the Partner and Official Airline of Real Madrid.
  • Emirates and the Victoria Racing Club announce a new five-year sponsorship agreement.
  • Emirates SkyCargo completes its first 100% paperless freighter flight between Nairobi and Amsterdam.
  • Emirates agrees to sponsor the Emirates Air Line, a cable car across London’s River Thames.
  • AeroMobile, Emirates’ inflight mobile phone service provider, reaches its 5 millionth user and Emirates launches Wi-Fi Internet connectivity for its A380 fleet.
  • dnata unveils a new company philosophy and fresh visual branding.
  • dnata announces a global investment of US$70 million in new equipment and facilities.
  • dnata acquires a 50% interest in Wings Inflight Services, a South African catering services provider.

2010

  • Emirates celebrates its 25th anniversary, marking a quarter of a century of success and remarkable growth.
  • New routes to Tokyo, Amsterdam, Prague, Al Medinah al Munawarah, Madrid, and Dakar launch and cargo-only operations to Almaty, Bagram, and Campinas commence.
  • The Emirates Group posts an increased profit of AED 4.2 billion (US$1.1 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.
  • Emirates orders 32 additional A380s at the Berlin Air Show, along with GP7200 engines by Engine Alliance. It also orders 30 additional B777-300ERs at the Farnborough Air Show.
  • Emirates is part of celebrations in South Africa as an Official Partner of the FIFA World Cup.
  • Emirates SkyCargo operates the first paperless flight between Mauritius and Dubai, with all shipments processed electronically.
  • Emirates SkyCargo sets a new record for the longest nonstop freighter flight ever—17.5 hours between Sydney and New York.
  • dnata acquires Mercator Asia in Thailand, its first overseas IT subsidiary.
  • dnata ground handling welcomes the first commercial flight to land at the new Dubai World Central–Al Maktoum International.
  • dnata officially opens its baggage hub control center across all three terminals at Dubai International Airport.
  • dnata acquires Alpha Flight Group Ltd., making it the fourth largest catering provider worldwide.
  • Emirates Skywards, with more than 5 million members, marks its 10th anniversary with a new look and an enhanced program.

2009

  • dnata acquires two of the UK’s leading ground-handling operations, at London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport.
  • dnata opens Afghanistan’s first internationally recognized one-stop travel shop in the country’s capital, Kabul.
  • Emirates launches flights to Durban and Luanda.
  • Emirates begins operations of the Airbus A380 on the Sydney, Auckland, Bangkok, Toronto, and Seoul routes.
  • With the delivery of its 78th B777 aircraft, Emirates becomes the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777s.
  • Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Australia’s first conservation-based resort and Emirates Hotels & Resorts’ first property outside of Dubai, welcomes its first guests.
  • Arsenal Soccer Schools Dubai, a joint venture between Emirates and Arsenal, opens its doors.
  • dnata marks its 50th anniversary at the Dubai Airshow.
  • Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa celebrates its 10th anniversary.
  • Premier Inn, a joint venture between the Emirates Group and Whitbread plc, opens its second hotel in Dubai at Silicon Oasis.
  • The 1 millionth Emirates passenger uses a mobile phone on an aircraft equipped with the AeroMobile system.
  • The largest ever Emirates TV advertising campaign to date, “Meet Dubai,” airs around the world.
  • Emirates opens its Community Health Education Society (CHES) home for HIV-positive children in Chennai, India.

2008

  • dnata acquires a 23% share of worldwide corporate travel company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), the largest share of the company, giving dnata access to a network of 120 countries.
  • dnata purchases a 49% share in Mind Pearl, a global contact center outsource organization, which expands dnata's offering of contact center outsource solutions across three continents.
  • dnata’s cargo operation joins forces with Kanoo, UAE, and SDV International Logistics, France, to create one of the UAE’s largest logistics solutions providers, Freightworks.
  • The company moves into the new multimillion-dollar Emirates Group Headquarters.
  • The Emirates-dedicated Terminal 3 opens in October; within a month, 500,000 passengers have flown out the terminal.
  • Emirates SkyCargo begins operations out of Dubai Cargo Village’s new Mega Terminal, which has capacity to handle 1.2 million tons annually.
  • The first Emirates flight to Los Angeles touches down, and flights are also launched to San Francisco and Cape Town.
  • Emirates becomes the first international carrier to introduce an inflight mobile phone service.
  • Emirates takes delivery of three A380s; aviation history is made when its first A380 touches down in New York.
  • The 10,000th cabin crew member joins the Emirates team.
  • New Emirates sporting facility 7he Sevens hosts record crowds at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.

2007

  • dnata enters the European market for the first time with the takeover of Jet Aviation Handling AG, the airport-handling division of Swiss-based Jet Aviation Group.
  • Emirates stuns the world by signing contracts for 120 Airbus A350s, 11 A380s, and 12 Boeing 777-330ERs, worth an estimated US$34.9 billion, at the Dubai Air Show.
  • New Engineering Center and Engine Test Cell are officially opened.
  • The Emirates Harbour Hotel & Residence and the Marina Hotel open their doors.
  • The addition of Sao Paulo to the network results in the first nonstop flight between the Middle East and South America.
  • Emirates Flight Catering begins operations at its new US$120 million facility at Dubai International.

2006

  • Emirates signs an agreement for 10 Boeing 747-8Fs in a deal worth US$3.3 billion.
  • Emirates seals a US$195 million partnership deal with Fifa, the world governing body of football, and also buys the rights to show every match played at the Germany World Cup on flights.
  • Arsenal plays its first match at the new Emirates Stadium.
  • Sheikh Ahmed says Emirates is at the heart of Dubai’s AED 300 billion investment in aviation and aerospace.
  • Emirates SkyCargo signs US$2.8 billion order for 10 Boeing 747-8Fs.

2005

  • Emirates Group workforce totals 25,000 people from 124 countries around the world, making it Dubai’s biggest employer.
  • Passenger traffic continues to rise, with 12.5 million recorded in the year.
  • Emirates orders 42 Boeing 777s in a deal worth US$9.7 billion, the largest Boeing 777 order in history.

2004

  • Emirates orders four Boeing 777-300ERs, with nine options, in a US$2.96 billion deal.
  • The SkyCargo fleet is increased, with three Airbus A310-300s added to its six Boeing 747s.
  • Emirates makes its first flight to North America, a nonstop 14-hour flight to New York’s JFK Airport. This marks the first nonstop passenger service from the Middle East to North America, a continent that Mr. Flanagan describes, in aviation terms, as the most important in the world.
  • Emirates signs a £100 million deal with English Premiership side Arsenal, which includes naming rights to its new stadium for 15 years and shirt sponsorship for 8 years, beginning with the 2006/07 season.
  • dnata opens its first regional travel outlet in Kuwait.

2003

  • CAE and Emirates join forces to open the US$100 million Emirates Aviation Training Center, which boasts numerous full-flight simulators.
  • Emirates shocks the industry at the Paris Air Show with the biggest deal in civil aviation history—a staggering order for 71 aircraft at a cost of US$19 billion.
  • Daily service from Dubai to Sydney starts on the first A340-500 to join the fleet.
  • The A340-500 features the revolutionary ice in-flight entertainment system, which offers 500 channels in all classes and a phone at every seat.
  • After carrying 8.5 million passengers, an increase of 26%, the airline posts an incredible profit increase of 94%, to AED 907 million from AED 468 million.
  • dnata is given a new corporate logo, a globe cushioned by a stylized runway represented by a curving green strip.

2002

  • In the Skytrax Internet poll, 4 million passengers vote and Emirates is again named Airline of the Year.
  • Global passenger levels drop by 4% but Emirates figures rise 18.3%, to 6.8 million.
  • Cargo across the world plunges 9% but Emirates enjoys an increase of 19.5%, to 400,000 tons.
  • Emirates Group announces a US$275 million investment in a new hangar complex at the Emirates Engineering Center.

2001

  • Emirates SkyCargo Center opens with the capacity to handle 400,000 tons of cargo a year.
  • Emirates signs £24 million deal to sponsor English Premiership football club Chelsea for four years.
  • In a survey of 2.7 million airline passengers by Skytrax Research, Emirates is voted Airline of the Year.
  • Emirates takes delivery of its 18th Airbus A330-200 and orders two more, making it the biggest A330 operator in the world.
  • With rivals reeling from September 11 and Boeing and Airbus in a weak bargaining position, Emirates stuns the world by announcing a US$15 billion order for 15 A380s, 8 A340-600s, 3 A330s, and 25 Boeing 777s.

2000

  • The Sheikh Rashid Terminal opens, increasing capacity at Dubai International to 22 million passengers a year.
  • Frequent flyer loyalty program Emirates Skywards is launched.
  • Sheikh Ahmed announces Dubai Government is to invest US$500–600 million in the new Terminal 3, which will have capacity for 20 million passengers a year.
  • Emirates becomes the first airline to sign up for the Airbus A380 when it orders seven, with an option on five more, at the Farnborough Air Show.
  • Emirates buys another six Boeing 777-300s.
  • Mr. Flanagan is made a Commander of the British Empire.

1999

  • Emirates enters the hotel property market with the opening of the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa.
  • The first of 17 next-generation Airbus A330-200s arrive in Dubai.
  • Emirates Group’s workforce totals 11,000.
  • dnata enters the southeast Asian airport services market with the launch of dnata Philippines Inc.
  • The airline capitalizes on the UAE’s growing ties with Australia and a deal is struck to add Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth to the Melbourne route.
  • Emirates sponsors the Melbourne Cup—the biggest meeting in Australia’s horse racing calendar—and the nation’s cricket team at the World Cup.
  • The livery of the Emirates fleet is updated with a modern, dynamic design.
  • Passenger arrivals at Dubai International hit the 11 million mark.

1998

  • Emirates increases its capacity by 26% as passenger figures hit 3.7 million, while cargo levels go up to 200,000 tons.
  • The Group takes a 43% stake in Air Lanka, which is renamed SriLankan.
  • Emirates is voted Best Airline in the World at the prestigious OAG Awards.
  • The US$540 million Terminal 2 is opened at Dubai International.

1997

  • Emirates enters a US$2 billion order for 16 Airbus A330-200s.
  • The airline defies high fuel prices to again post record profits as passenger figures top 3 million and the cargo haul hits 150,000 tons.
  • Emirates takes delivery of six Boeing 777-200s, giving it new long-haul capabilities.

1996

  • Emirates Airline takes delivery of its first Boeing 777-200 and becomes the first airline to show live footage of take-off and landing. Its maiden flight to London is followed by its inaugural flight to Melbourne.
  • Emirates becomes title sponsor of the world’s richest horse racing event, the Dubai World Cup.

1995

  • As the airline celebrates its 10th birthday, it has a fleet flying to 34 locations in the Middle East, Far East, and Europe.
  • Emirates enters the African market, with flights into Johannesburg and Nairobi.
  • Sheikh Ahmed’s goal for more Emiratis to forge careers with Emirates starts to take shape as the first pilots graduate from Emirates’ training program.
  • Emirates Flight Training Center opens.

1994

  • Emirates is the first airline to equip an Airbus fleet with an in-flight fax facility.

1993

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

1992

  • Emirates becomes the first airline to install video systems in all seats in all classes throughout its fleet.
  • Emirates convinces the French government to allow it to fly into Paris.
  • US$2 million terminal exclusive to Emirates is opened at Dubai International.
  • Emirates becomes first airline to order a US$20 million Airbus full-flight simulator.

1991

  • On January 17, Emirates grounds its fleet for several hours as the battle to liberate Kuwait begins. Operations resume and Emirates maintains 90% of its normal services during the first month of the conflict.
  • Emirates finally gets a slot at the busiest international hub in the world—London Heathrow.
  • Shortly after the arrival of another Airbus A300-600R, taking its fleet to nine, Emirates orders seven Boeing 777s, with an option for seven more, in a US$64.5 million deal.
  • As the airline celebrates its sixth anniversary, 25,000 passengers a week are being flown to 23 destinations.

1990

  • Sheikh Ahmed signs up for three more Airbus A310-300s at the Asean Aerospace exhibition in Singapore.
  • Emirates bucks the industry trend and continues to expand despite the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, adding Manchester to its schedule.

1989

  • Flights are added to Singapore, Manila, and Bangkok.

1988

  • Damascus is added to the Emirates route network, giving it a total of 12 destinations in just 38 months of business.

1987

  • Deals are struck to fly into London’s Gatwick Airport, as well as Istanbul, Frankfurt, and Male, the capital of the Maldives.
  • On July 3, an Emirates A6-EKA flies from to Toulouse to Dubai as the airline takes delivery of its first purchased aircraft.
  • The Airbus A310-304 is designed to Emirates specifications, a sign of the airline's commitment to providing a flying experience that is superior to its rivals.

1986

  • The network grows with traffic rights acquired into Amman, Colombo, Cairo, and Dhaka.
  • Investment in infrastructure and expansion costs means Emirates posts losses—the only time in its history.

1985

  • Sheikh Mohammed introduces Mr. Flanagan to his uncle and future Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
  • Mr. Flanagan embarks on an ambitious mission to launch an airline with US$10 million in five months.
  • Sheikh Ahmed and future president Tim Clark join Mr. Flanagan’s team.
  • Pakistan International Airlines agrees to wet-lease two aircraft to Emirates.
  • Deals are struck to fly into Karachi, New Delhi, and Bombay.
  • On October 25, Flight EK600 departs Dubai International for Karachi.
  • Sheikh Mohammed gifts two Boeing 727-200s to the airline.

1984

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Mr. Flanagan discuss launching an airline in Dubai.
  • Mr. Flanagan is among a 10-person team that produces a business plan for the new airline, to be named either Dubai Airlines or Emirates Airline.
  • Sheikh Mohammed opts for Emirates and the decision is made to build the airline on top of dnata, which is already the sales agent for 25 airlines.

1978

  • Maurice Flanagan moves to Dubai to become director and general manager of dnata.

1960

  • Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum opens the airport and implements an innovative open-skies policy.

1959

  • dnata is established by the Dubai Government with just five staff to provide ground handling services at the new Dubai International Airport.

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