Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, delivered another year of trendsetting product and service initiatives across its fleet and network to make ‘flying better’ for its customers.
In the last twelve months, Emirates carried over 59* million passengers on over 3,700 passenger flights on average per week. The airline proudly served a diverse menu of over 66 million meals on its flights departing Dubai*, and moved close to 36 million pieces of baggage* in Dubai to its global network of 157 destinations. In 2018, Emirates operated over 192,000 flights, with its fleet of 274 aircraft travelling more than 908 million kilometres around the globe.
Reflecting on 2018’s milestones, Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates airline said: “Our ambitions have always been driven by a commitment to continual improvement – to make the customer experience better, and to make our business operations more efficient.
“We had our challenges in 2018, however we continued to maximise opportunities by deploying our capacity to best serve customer demand, keeping a close watch on our costs, utilising technology to improve business performance, as well as developing more customer-centric products and services to provide our passengers with greater choice. Our customers remain at the heart of everything we do, and our continual investments in the business will be the foundation on which we will build our future growth and continue to deliver solid results.”
Making the air travel experience better for customers
The year began with Emirates setting out on a US$150 million programme to refurbish its Boeing 777-200LR fleet. These 10 newly refurbished aircraft are set in a two-class configuration offering 38 Business Class seats with wider seats laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration, and 264 seats in Economy Class. The revamp also brought airier and more spacious cabins throughout the aircraft.
Emirates is now planning for the next generation cabin design of its Boeing 777X programme. On its new generation A380s entering service from 2020 onwards, Emirates is planning the deployment of its Premium Economy product, featuring a bespoke design and an array of experience-rich touches.
In March, Emirates celebrated 10 years of mobile connectivity onboard as it continues to be at the forefront of innovation with inflight connectivity and entertainment. During 2018, over 12 million passengers connected to Wi-Fi onboard Emirates. Over the summer, football fans eagerly cheered on their national teams during the FIFA World Cup onboard 175 Emirates aircraft equipped with Live TV. In 2019, 50 more aircraft will be retrofitted with Live TV, providing even more choice for customers to watch live sports, breaking news and much more.
In addition, Emirates now offers over 1,000 movies as part of its over 4,000 channel selection on ice, its award-winning in-flight entertainment system. The most popular movie onboard Emirates in 2018 was Black Panther, while the majority of passengers enjoyed comedy of all genres on offer. Emirates was also the first of any airline to launch the classic movie E.T The Extra Terrestrial. Bringing its own content onboard, Emirates introduced a Food & Wine channel to give customers a glimpse into how it creates its menus and sources the best artisanal ingredients and beverages from global partners.
Ice continues to win accolades with its 14th consecutive World’s Best Inflight Entertainment award at the 2018 Skytrax World Airline Awards.
Delivering the best culinary experience for customers, Emirates has been building on its already popular special menus and dishes marking occasions including Christmas, Ramadan, Oktoberfest, Lunar New Year, amongst others. In April, the airline upheld its leadership position when it comes to its wine and spirits selection onboard, with a revamp of its spirits offering across all classes, introducing a range of new premium brands as well as exclusive selections. The Emirates Vintage collection, a selection of fine wines that have been stored for 15 years was introduced on select routes in First Class. The exclusive wine selection included Château Cheval Blanc 2004, Château Haut Brion 2004, Château Mouton Rothschild 2001 and Château Margaux 1998. In 2019, Emirates will be exclusively serving the Dom Pérignon Vintage 2008, the next Vintage of Dom Pérignon.
Emirates also brought new luxury products into its First and Business Class offering. The new products were developed from collaborations with BYREDO skincare, Bowers & Wilkins and Emirates’ longstanding partnership with Bulgari for its refreshed amenity kits. The airline regularly refreshes its amenity kits to ensure that customers are able to experience the full range of products onboard.
During the busy summer period, Emirates delighted families with a new ‘Fly With Me’ animal toy selection, and new Lonely Planet activity kits for children. Travellers passing through Emirates Terminal 3 in Dubai were also treated to complimentary cups of ice-cream.
Enhancing the ground experience
Emirates introduced Home Check-in in April, a new service allowing customers in Dubai to check in for their flights from the comfort of their own homes, hotel or office, and have their luggage transported prior to their flight. So far, over 6,000 bags have been checked in for customers using this service.
Working closely with stakeholders, Emirates announced it will soon launch the world’s first ‘biometric path’ offering customers a smooth and seamless airport journey at the airline’s hub in Dubai International airport. Utilising the latest in biometric technology – a mix of facial and iris recognition, Emirates passengers will in the upcoming months be able to check-in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter the Emirates Lounge, and board their flights, by simply walking through different airport touchpoints.
In line with its ‘fly better’ brand promise, Emirates is bringing in a brand new fleet of high tech buses for airside passenger operations, with a full fleet of 128 buses to be operational by 2020 . These dedicated buses will ferry Emirates’ passengers between terminals and its aircraft at remote stands in greater comfort.
Emirates expanded its lounge network with the opening of new facilities in Cairo taking the total number of dedicated Emirates lounges to 42. The airline also completed the refurbishment of its Rome lounge.
Emirates Skywards, the airline’s loyalty programme, hit a milestone 20 million members this year. In 2018, over 14 billion Miles were cashed in for upgrades, reward flights, special Emirates sponsored events, as well as benefits across the more than 172 Skywards network of partners. Flight rewards continue to be the most popular use of miles within the Emirates Skywards programme. In 2018, over 85% of all Miles redeemed were either in the form of an upgrade, a full reward ticket or a cash+miles transaction. This represented more than 1.1 million transactions, which is the equivalent of nearly 6 flight reward transactions for every take off. During the year Emirates Skywards also introduced more attractive rates and a more seamless experience for members to buy, transfer and gift Skywards Miles.
In May, Emirates Skywards revamped its ‘My Family’ programme that now enables family members to pool 100% of Skywards Miles earned on Emirates flights, and allows them to redeem rewards faster than before. More than 185,000 ‘My Family’ accounts have been created, and the contribution of Miles from each member can be adjusted at any time.
In keeping pace with new technologies, Emirates Skywards now displays relevant ‘always-on’ offers to members booking on emirates.com to help maximise the value of their Skywards Miles. This industry-first feature targets members with personalised upgrade and cash+miles offers based on their loyalty status and travel history when choosing their flights.
In August, Emirates Skywards became the frequent flyer programme for flydubai. This alignment allows Emirates Skywards members to earn Skywards Miles and Tier Miles when travelling on both Emirates and flydubai.
Providing a world-class customer experience in the online world, Emirates this year introduced immersive 3D seat models on emirates.com, making it the first airline in the world to roll out web virtual reality (VR) technology on its digital platform. Customers can navigate the award-winning 3D seat map of the interior of the Emirates A380 and the Emirates Boeing 777; explore their seats, the spacious cabin and the Emirates onboard product before they select their seats.
Making connectivity better
Emirates boosted choice and connectivity for customers in 2018. As the airline received new aircraft, four new routes were launched, frequencies were added to 20 destinations, and capacity to eight cities was upgraded.
Emirates expanded its UK footprint with the launch of services to London Stansted and Edinburgh, and enhanced long-haul connectivity to South America with the launch of flights to Santiago de Chile. The airline also launched Dubai-Bali-Auckland services, which has become the only year around non-stop daily flight between Bali and Auckland.
Emirates extended its partnership with flydubai to expand access to its customers to a combined network of 206 unique points, and over 1 million passengers have booked their travel on combined Emirates and flydubai itineraries as a result. Since the beginning of December, Emirates customers have direct access to 11 flydubai destinations from Emirates Terminal 3, and both airlines continue to further enhance inter-terminal transfers for customers in Dubai. During the year Emirates also announced a new codeshare agreement with Jetstar Pacific and enhanced its commercial strategic partnership with South African Airways.
Emirates hit two fleet milestones in 2018, celebrating 10 years of A380 operations in August, and taking delivery of its last Boeing 777-300ER, its 146th in December.
In January, the airline announced a US$ 16 billion (AED 58.7 billion) deal for 36 additional Airbus A380 aircraft, to be delivered to Emirates from 2020 onwards. Emirates also expanded the number of cities served by its popular A380 aircraft to 50 destinations with recent launch of scheduled services to Hamburg and Osaka. The airline also led one-off A380 services to five cities: Beirut, Muscat, Islamabad, Riyadh and Accra, and temporary services to St. Petersburg.
*Flight figures are for the 2018 calendar year
*Catering figures cover meals loaded at Dubai International only. This does not include meals loaded at other destinations
*Baggage figures cover Dubai International only