Emirates is the world’s largest long-haul carrier and operates more Airbus A380’s and Boeing 777’s than any other airline in the world. In 2016, Emirates won the prestigious ‘World’s Best Airline’ title, as awarded by industry heavyweights, Skytrax and was named world’s #1 airline in the inaugural Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Awards.
If you’re attending an Assessment Day for Emirates you’ll be expected to have an in-depth knowledge of the airline – and assume that knowledge will be checked. Use this quick cheat sheet to get all the key facts, figures and insider knowledge to impress the recruiters.
Updated: November 2017
The cheat sheet is broken into eight sections: Key Facts, Main Talking Points, History & Heritage, Key Innovations, Classes of Travel, Airline Alliance & Frequent Flyer Club, Charity Efforts, Destinations and Aircraft Fleet
Motto: Hello Tomorrow (Since 2012) – Previously, Keep Discovering
Home Base: Dubai International Airport (DXB), United Arab Emirates
Age: 32 years old. The airline was founded on 25th March 1985. Its first flight, on 25th October 1985 was the EK600 from Dubai International to Karachi.
Parent Company: Emirates Airline is a key division of the Emirates Group. Its parent company owns more than 50 brands that specialise in the travel and tourism market. The group’s other core business is ‘dnata’ – the world’s fourth largest combined air services provider. Other brands include Emirates SkyCargo, Arabian Adventures and Emirates Flight Catering.
Ownership: Emirates is owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai. This is a sovereign wealth fund that is owned by the government of Dubai.
Annual Passenger Numbers: In 2015-2016 Emirates carried 51.9 million passengers (latest figures available). That was an increase of 8% from the previous year – helped by the introduction of new aircraft and eight new destinations.
Chairman & CEO: His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The Sheikh heads both the Emirates Group and Airline. He has pioneered Dubai’s transformation into a major aviation and tourism hub.
President: Sir Tim Clark – since 2003. Clark has spent his entire career in the aviation industry. He joined Emirates at its very formation in 1985 as Head of Airline Planning.
Employees: Approximately 61,000 – In 2015 the number of Cabin Crew exceeded 20,000 for the first time.
Call Sign: Emirates
The Emirates Logo: The red colour in the Emirates logo represents prosperity, self-confidence, passion and leadership. The white colour depicts nobility, elegance and purity.
Main Talking Points
If you need the shortest and sweetest of cheat sheets then this is the section for you.
1. A multi-cultural and cosmopolitan airline
The Emirates route network puts two-thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight of Dubai. The airline employs a truly global workforce of Cabin Crew – representing over 150 different nationalities. It’s home in Dubai is a cosmopolitan city that has welcomed workers and visitors from around the world.
2. Ambitious and Fast Moving
In just thirty years, Emirates has becomes the world’s largest long-haul airline. In 2003, the airline struck the largest aircraft deal in aviation history – with an order for 71 new aircraft at a list price of $19 billion USD. It’s route network now stretches to over 155 destinations, in 82 countries and across 6 continents.
3. Innovative and Market Leading
Emirates has pushed boundaries to deliver market leading products that appeal to passengers. It has won the Skytrax award for the world’s best in-flight entertainment with it ice system for 13-straight years. It was the first airline to install a lounge and shower on its A380 aircraft. The airline is frequently praised, not only for its lavish cabins and amenities but also for the service provided by Cabin Crew.
In 2016, Emirates won the coveted title of World’s Best Airline from Skytrax. The award is just one of hundreds Emirates has picked up over the years. Also in 2016, the airline won big at the Business Traveller Awards. Emirates took home the Best Airline Worldwide award as well as the Best Economy Class and Airline with the Best Cabin Staff.
In 2017, Emirates won the award for Best Airline in the World at the inaugural TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards for Airlines. The airline also won Best Major Airline – Middle East & Africa, Best Economy Class, Best First Class and World’s Best Airlines – Top 10. At the prestigious ULTRAS 2017 Awards, Emirates was voted Best Airline in the World and Best Middle Eastern Airline.
Back in 1984, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the leader of Dubai proposed a new airline for the Emirate. Out of the choice of Dubai Airlines or Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed chose what would become one of the world’s largest airlines.
In March 1985, the fledgeling airline was gifted $10 million USD and given just 5-months to launch. With the help of Pakistan Airlines who agreed to wet-lease two aircraft to Emirates, the airline was about to take flight. The first ever Emirates flight took place on 25th October 1985 when the EK800 took off from Dubai International Airport to Karachi.
It didn’t take long for Emirates to rapidly expand. In 1987, Emirates took delivery of its first bought aircraft. Within 38 months the airline was already serving 12 global destinations. In just 10 years, Emirates had expanded that number to 34.
By 1998, Emirates was recognised as the Best Airline in the World at the prestigious OAG Awards. Making history in 2003, the carrier struck the largest biggest deal in civil aviation history when it ordered 71 aircraft to the tune $19 billion USD at the Paris Air Show.
Today, Emirates is the world’s largest long-haul airline. It operates the largest fleet of Airbus A380’s and Boeing 777’s in the world. Emirates flies to approximately 152 destinations in 72 countries with annual passenger numbers in excess of 51 million.
- November 2017 – Calling it a ‘gamechanger’, Emirates launches a brand new First Class Suite for its Boeing 777 fleet. The suite is the worlds first fully enclosed airline suite and features ‘virtual windows’ for inside seats.
- November 2017 – Emirates places an order for 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner’s at the Dubai Airshow. The deal is worth $15.1 billion at list price.
- June 2017 – Emirates won World’s Best Inflight Entertainment award for a record 13th year at the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards 2017. The airline also picked up the award for Best First Class Comfort Amenities.
- June 2017 – The airline launches its new daily service to Zagreb, Croatia.
- May 2017 – Emirates took home “Best Airline in the World” and “Best Middle Eastern Airline” at the prestigious ULTRAS 2017 Awards.
- APRIL 2017 – Emirates named Best Airline in the World in TripAdvisor inaugural Travelers’ Choice Awards for Airlines 2017
- March 2017 – Emirates launches its new fifth freedom flight from Athens to Newark. The route marks the 12th U.S. destination in the Emirates network. In December 2016, Emirates also introduced a service to Fort Lauderdale
- March 2017 – A new and improved onboard lounge for the A380 is shown at the ITB Berlin trade show. The lounge will debut in July.
- February 2017 – Passengers are now able to pay for access to the Emirates First and Business Class lounges at Dubai International Airport. The Business Class lounge had an $11 million USD makeover in October 2016.
- December 2016 – The world’s first moisturising inflight pyjamas for First Class passengers are unveiled. Blankets made out of recycled bottles are introduced for Economy passengers.
- October 2016 – Jennifer Aniston stars in her 2nd commercial for Emirates – it highlights the qualities of its Economy Class product.
- July 2016 – Emirates wins the World’s Best Airline 2016 award at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. The airline also takes home the award for World’s Best Inflight Entertainment for a record 12th consecutive year.
Emirates has been credited with delivering luxury and glamour reminiscent of the glory days of commercial aviation. Tim Clark, the airline’s President has spoken of going against the grain to push for the introduction of onboard showers and lounges.
- 2017 – In November, unveiled a brand new fully-enclosed First Class Suite on its Boeing 777 aircraft. A refreshed cabin for Business Class and Economy was also revealed.
- 2017 – Emirates announced an ‘extensive partnership’ with the low-cost airline, flydubai. More than a simple codeshare agreement, the partnership will see Emirates and flydubai coordinating schedules and services to widen their overall route networks.
- 2017 – In July, Emirates took delivery of an Airbus A380 installed with a redesigned onboard lounge. Tables have been introduced for the first time and additional seating added to bring greater comforts for First and Business Class passengers.
- 2016 – The airline leverages social media to reach more customers. It now has more than 1 million followers on Instagram and customer support can be reached on social media channels 24 hours a day.
- 2016 – New Business Class seats are introduced for the airlines Boeing 777 fleet. They will be the first seats to convert to fully flat beds on an Emirates 777.
- 2015 – An enhanced First Class suite with sliding doors and a minibar are introduced. The latest version of the suite has an upgraded 32-inch television.
- 2008 – The first Airbus A380 joins the Emirates fleet. The new aircraft has an onboard shower for First Class passengers as well as a lounge and bar area. Passengers in First Class and Business benefit from seats that convert to fully flat beds and all aisle access.
- 2008 – Emirates becomes the first airline to introduce in-flight mobile phone services for international travellers.
- 1992 – Became one of the first airlines to introduce a personal entertainment system for all passengers. Emirates is now recognised as having the best in-flight entertainment system in the industry.
Classes of Travel
Emirates has three classes of travel: Economy, Business Class and First Class. The airline has also confirmed that it is exploring the introduction of a Premium Economy Class but no official announcement has been made. Tim Clark has suggested that the viability of Premium Economy will be known around April or May 2017.
The Emirates Economy Class product is fairly consistent across the fleet On the Airbus A380, passengers benefit from 32-34 inches of seat pitch and an 18.5-inch wide seat. The Boeing 777 fleet is slightly cosier with 32 inches of pitch and a 17-inch wide seat.
Every seat is fitted with a personal in-flight entertainment system, called ice, which gives access to up to 2,500 channels of entertainment. Passengers are offered complimentary meals, snacks and a full bar service.
What marks Emirates apart are the many passenger touch-points which include: cosy blankets made out recycled bottles, premium hand wash and lotion available in restrooms and the ‘world’s first interactive amenity kit’ available on long-haul flights.
Children are well looked after with a collection of complimentary products gifted to younger passengers. Emirates recently updated its range of ‘Come Fly With Me’ toys designed for younger passengers.
Airbus A380: All seats in the Business Class cabin have direct aisle access and convert into a fully flat bed. Due to the staggered formation in the cabin, the bed has a length of either 70 inches or 79 inches. Business Class passengers can enjoy the luxurious onboard bar and lounge. Amenity kits and products come from luxury Italian brand, Bvlgari.
Boeing 777: Emirates is in the process of upgrading its 777 Business Class seats to a new design that can be converted into a 78-inch long fully flat bed. The design is inspired by the interior of a modern sports car but not all seats have direct aisle access.
On aircraft that feature First Class, passengers enjoy a private suite with sliding doors and a seat that converts into a 78-inch fully flat bed. The suite features a minibar, vanity unit and large personal television screen (the latest version of the Suite has an upgraded 32-inch screen). Passengers can choose when they eat with a ‘dine on demand’ concept.
A signature of the Emirates A380 First Class experience is the onboard shower spa. Reserved exclusively for First Class guests, a fully functioning shower in the front of the aircraft allows passengers to freshen up prior to arrival at their destination.
Luxury amenity kits are provided by Bvlgari and toiletries are supplied by cult Irish brand, VOYA. Emirates recently introduced the world’s first moisturising in-flight pyjamas for First Class guests. An upgraded sheepskin blanket, sheets and a mattress help passengers get a good nights rest.
Airline Alliance & Frequent Flyer Club
Emirates is not a member of an airline alliance. However, it has forged codeshare agreements with a number of partner airlines. High-profile codeshare partners include Alaska Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jetblue Airways and South African Airways.
Since 2013, Emirates has been in a major partnership with Qantas to forge “a seamless travel experience.” The deal saw Qantas abandon its Singapore hub to relocate to Dubai.
Qantas is set to abandon Dubai next year, although the overall partnership has been renewed until 2023.
Emirates has its own frequent flyer programme called Skywards. It is a relatively simple system that awards ‘miles’ for flights flown. The number of miles you earn depends on the length of flight, type of ticket purchased (basic, flexible, etc) and the cabin flown in (economy, business, first class).
You can spend the earned miles on reward flights but elite status can also be earned by collecting miles. There are four tiers of the programme that reward increasing benefits as you move up the tiers:
Blue: All new members enter at this level. There are very few benefits but it will give you waitlist priority over non-Skywards members.
Silver: Awarded at 25,000 tier miles (or 25 qualifying flights). Silver card holders get an additional luggage allowance, dedicated check-in, airport lounge access in Dubai and a 25% bonus on earned miles.
Gold: Awarded at 50,000 tier miles (or 50 qualifying flights). Members get a 50% bonus on earned miles, guaranteed seats on full flights, lounge access at all airports and priority luggage delivery.
Platinum: Awarded at 150,000 tier miles. Members earn a 75% bonus on miles and are allowed to nominate a partner for complimentary Gold card status.
Emirates runs its own charitable organisation called The Emirates Airline Foundation. Its aim is to provide “humanitarian, philanthropic aid and services for children in need.” The foundation primarily helps charities that are based in locations that the airline serves.
Locations include Ethiopia, South Africa and India. The foundation also supports the Emirates Friendship Hospital ship in Bangladesh that provides vital medical care to over 2 million people.
Donations can be made in cash on Emirates flights, through donated Skywards miles and via the Emirates Airline Foundation website.
Number of Destinations: 155 – in 82 countries and across 6 continents.
Emirates is the largest operator of the Airbus A380 in the world and now flies the aircraft to 49 destinations on six continents. In March, Emirates flew three new A380 destinations in one day – Tokyo Narita, Casablanca and Sao Paulo. The carrier also flies the A380 from Dubai to Doha – the shortest A380 service in the world (suspended since June 2017 following the cutting of diplomatic relations between Qatar and the UAE).
In March, Emirates added its 12th destination in the United States with its new Fifth Freedom flight from Athens to Newark. The airline also serves Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Washington and New York JFK (Some U.S. destinations have been scaled back as a result of the Laptop Ban).
Emirates added the following destinations in 2016: Cebu and Clark in the Philippines, Yinchuan and Zhengzhou in China, Yangon in Myanmar, Hanoi in Vietnam and Fort Lauderdale in the US.
- In June 2017, Emirates launched a new service from Dubai to Zagreb, Croatia.
- Also in June 2017, a third daily flight was introduced between Dubai and Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
- From July 2017, a new service will operate from Dubai to Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
- Guinea rejoined the Emirates network in October 2016, with a four times weekly service to Conakry.
Aircraft & Fleet
The average age of aircraft in the Emirates fleet is just 61 months – This compares to the industry average of 140 months. Emirates operate an all-wide-body fleet of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300 jets – the largest fleets of the two aircraft types in the world.
The Airbus A380
As of November 2017, Emirates has 100 A380 aircraft. There are a further 42 on order. Since 2008, Emirates has carried over 65 million passengers on their flagship aircraft.
Most A380’s have three classes of travel – First Class, Business Class and Economy Class. The First Class cabin and shower spa are situated at the front of the plane, on the top deck. Business Class and the onboard lounge take the remainder of the top deck. The entire lower deck is reserved for economy seating.
On a small number of A380’s, Emirates operate a two-class configuration where there is no First Class. On these aircraft an additional economy section takes the space on the upper deck where First Class would normally be.
The Boeing 777-300
Since November 2016, all new Emirates 777’s have been fitted with a new Business Class seat. The airline has a total of 165 Boeing 777’s in service (as of November 2017).
From 2020, the airline will start taking delivery of the first of its brand new Boeing 777X aircraft. Emirates has a firm order for 164 new 777’s, including 150 next-generation 777X aircraft. The new jets will also have a new and upgraded in-flight entertainment system.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.