Emirates aims to fly between 100-120 million passengers on 360 aircraft by 2020: Sheikh Majid Al Mualla
Airline’s partnership with DFRE very strong, with the DSS bringing about a huge shift in the concept of holidays and festivals during the summer
· Seat occupancy rates reported at 70-75% during the summer
· GCC market very important for Emirates with trips in the region reaching up to 1,405 during the summer
Emirates is proceeding with plans to remain at the forefront of developments that are taking place in Dubai every year with a strategic plan for 2020 and the expansion of its route and fleet. Based on the latest projections, Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, GCC, Middle East and Iran said that Emirates aims to transport between 100 and 120 million travelers by the year 2020, while increasing its fleet strength from 200 to 360 aircraft by that year. He disclosed this during an interview with the Media Centre of the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and organizers of the DSS and the wider “Summer is Dubai” campaign.
Sheikh Majid said that Emirates is considered an important partner and supporter of the DFRE in its efforts to continue enhancing Dubai’s image in various fields, especially when it comes to festivals, exhibitions, conferences and events. Sheikh Majid added that DSS has changed the summer months to an active season full of fun and joy for visitors and tourists, and this is what has made Dubai a main summer destination where families can spend their holidays.
He added that the number of flights the airline operates during the summer to and from the GCC destinations has reached 1,405, with Ramadan and Eid, too, contributing to this number. Seat occupancy rates reached 70-75% during DSS, he added. Sheikh Majid also revealed that Emirates spends millions of dirhams on sports sponsorships and that the most recent teams that the airline has sponsored is the famous Spanish football team, Real Madrid.
Excerpts of the interview with the DFRE media centre:
What has been Emirates’ contribution in the success of the Dubai Summer Surprises?
Emirates considers itself an important partner and supporter of the efforts of all parties in strengthening and building up Dubai’s reputation in all fields. The UAE and, particularly, Dubai are both unique in hosting festivals, conferences, exhibitions and events. The DSS is part of this uniqueness and it turns the summer season into a time of fun and activity that both tourists and residents can enjoy. This is what has made Dubai a great destination for visitors and tourists to spend their holidays in.
The efforts of various economic sectors – such as retail, hospitality and aviation – towards the promotions during this period of time is what makes people want to visit Dubai in the summer. Visitors, especially from the GCC countries, spend a couple of days in Dubai then continue the rest of their holidays in other countries. Moreover, there are a large number of residents who spend their summer in Dubai, as the DSS offers them various activities and gives them the opportunity to rediscover and enjoy the city with all its tourist attractions, entertainment and shopping experiences.
Being a strategic partner of the DFRE, how does Emirates see DSS compared to other international festivals and Dubai’s position in this industry?
We have been supporting DFRE since the launch of DSF in 1996 and DSS in 1998 – two huge festivals that have built and sustained the reputation of Dubai as a tourist destination. Since that time and until this day, Emirates has developed and improved to become one of the biggest global enterprises. This development has coincided with the development of Dubai with regard to the emirate’s infrastructure, roads and transportation, hospitality, etc. This is what has made Dubai one of the most unique cities on the planet.
At Emirates, our fleet has increased to 200 aircraft that fly to 134 destinations in 77 countries around the world. Meanwhile, Dubai has carved out an international reputation for excellence, thanks to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Our means of communication with people in other countries has also developed and improved, enabling us to present an amazing image of Dubai to the world and project the city as a must-visit destination.
Emirates will keep growing and developing, adding 360 aircraft to its fleet by the year 2020. These will be huge aircraft that transport as many passengers as possible. We are aiming at carrying between 100 and 120 million travelers globally by the year 2020.
Is GCC the considered as one of the most important markets for Emirates, especially during the summer? What are the most popular destinations that Emirates flies to? What about additional flights during DSS? How many are they?
The DSS has seen large numbers of visitors these past years from the GCC countries. They come to Dubai almost every year and, therefore, we consider the GCC to be a very important market. We have a large number of flights to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and other neighbouring countries. The population of Saudi Arabia alone is approximately 30 million. Realising this, we have 49 additional flights weekly to the Kingdom, apart from the existing 69 flights per week. The number of flights to GCC countries will be approximately 1,405 during the summer, as we also expect flights to increase during Ramadan and Eid.
What about the promotions that are taking place during DSS? And do you have any promotions planned for Ramadan and Eid?
Emirates offers special offers and prices during the summer, which aim to attract even higher numbers of travelers while simultaneously benefitting the tourists and their families.
Yes, we use the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777 for three daily flights to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Although these are long haul aircraft, they are used on the Jeddah route to meet the high demand from travelers, since these planes take up to 515 passengers (A380). This helps us keep our customers happy.
We are planning to induct three more Airbus A380 planes into our fleet this year. Emirates has 34 Airbus A380s and we will continue to receive more aircraft in the near future.
What is the occupancy rate on Emirates airline during DSS and the summer season?
At Emirates, we consider DSS and “Summer is Dubai” to be one of our most important seasons. We witness huge occupancy rates on most of our flights, varying between 70 to 75%. And this can be attributed to the noticeable increase in the overall numbers of travelers coming into Dubai to enjoy the promotions of the season. There is no doubt that Dubai has what people are looking for, whether businessmen or tourists.
Emirates airline is one of the key players in promoting Dubai. How do you achieve and maintain this reputation and success?
Emirates has a great reputation and a good relationship with its partners, as well as plans of flying on new routes to a lot more destinations. Having our sales offices in these countries helps promote Dubai as a shopping and touristic place.
We have some new flights and routes on the anvil. On September 4th, we will launch our daily non-stop flight to Stockholm in Sweden. On October 1st, we will launch our flight to Clark in Philippines. We started flying to Haneda in Japan on June 3rd
and on 1st of March to Algeria. If you bear in mind that we offer attractive promotional packages when we launch these flights, it is easy to see why people are encouraged to choose Emirates.
We also work closely with DTCM and we are always keen to keep people updated through various marketing and promotional channels including advertisements and brochures. All of these help in promoting Dubai and improving its image.
In the light of the number of airlines that have spread in the country and the region, has this affected Emirates passenger numbers?
Airlines have contributed in creating a new segment of customers that did not use airplanes as their means of transportation, but used to travel by road – and this is a welcome step. The number of people who travel by air in the Arab region is 15 per cent of the total population. Despite that, a huge number of people are still looking for unique services, easy transportation and modern planes when they travel.
Our prices at Emirates are competitive and we focus more on services. We have invested in adding Wifi to our planes, in addition to the advanced flight entertainment system “Ice” that offers more than 1,500 channels. Emirates is investing heavily in the premises of the Dubai International Airport, including Concourse A. Also, there is continuous renovation at the airport.
Moreover, whereas the average age of the aircraft we have is about six years, other carriers use aircraft for much longer, sometimes for even 25 years. Emirates treats its first class and business class passengers in a very special way as it offers them a huge variety of services, including chauffer driven cars and special waiting lounges at airports, of which we have 33 around the world.
What are your expectations after the opening of the Al Maktoum International Airport?
There is no doubt that the opening of the Al Maktoum International Airport on October 27 next year, will be a unique addition to the air transport sector in the country as the airport will have various other airlines and will offer a variety of services to travelers. This will reflect in a positive way on Dubai’s economy.
What does Emirates offer to support Expo 2020? And what are the benefits that you’ll have if Dubai wins?
We always work to support Dubai and the UAE and there is no doubt that Expo 2020 will be of huge benefit for all of us, including Emirates, which is one of the main organizations that support Dubai’s Expo 2020 bid.
I would like to stress in this regard that "Dubai World Expo 2020" has the full support of the government, the people and the business community in the UAE. As far as Emirates is concerned, the year 2020 is projected to be a landmark for us as we will transport 120 million travelers around the world by that year. Having the Expo 2020 in Dubai would be a fitting way to achieve that.
Moving to sports, what sponsorships has Emirates made now and what is their aim?
Emirates has always been interested in sports sponsorships, especially when it comes to soccer. At present Emirates sponsors several popular teams around the world, such as Arsenal, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, and the American Cosmos. Real Madrid is the most recent. Also, Emirates is a partner of FIFA 2014.
We are keen to reach out to other sports, like horse racing, car racing (Formula 1), tennis, golf and other sports. This strategy aims to reach out to people, especially with sports that have huge audiences and countries that adopt these teams – and these are the countries whose people use Emirates airlines when travelling.