How Emirates Airline started three decades ago with two leased planes from PIA

Photo: AFP

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, recently published an autobiography in which he revealed how he set up the Emirates airline with two rental planes from PIA. 

In the 37th chapter of the book, he shared Emirates journey to becoming one of the best airlines in the world.

He explained that by the end of the 1970s, UAE announced an ‘open sky’ policy in Dubai to attract airlines, enhance competition and open more sectors in our economy.

He further wrote that Gulf Air, which was supported by some countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and operated many trips to Dubai, was worried that some other airlines would benefit from their policy.

The differences between them increased, he wrote, saying that Gulf Air asked him clearly to end the open sky policy so that they could protect their market share.

Related: PIA gets another Rs5.6b bailout package

After holding many meetings, he reached a dead end and Gulf Air reduced the number of flights to Dubai.

“In 1984, I invited the manager of an aviation company called Dnata in Dubai, Maurice Flanagan, to my office, to discuss with him a dream I always had. I wanted to establish an airline in Dubai.”

I asked about the cost of launching the airline and they said $10 million. We had six months to launch the new airline. We rented two planes from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and worked on them.

PIA also provided training facilities for Emirates’ first staff members. The Pakistani airline ensured they had all the resources needed for the project. Several weeks later, the airline had a name.

Today, Emirates Airline has been recognised as the best airline several times and continues to profit. The total income for the company in 2018 reached $28 billion. It has more than 260 planes and transports more than 60 million travelers annually.

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