Vol. 11 No. 20                                                                                                            Saturday March 3, 2012 EXTRA

     Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire designated March 1 as “Emirates Day” in the State of Washington, as EK opened up scheduled service between Dubai and Seattle, the carrier’s sixth USA destination and the second added in the past 30 days, after dailies from Dallas to Dubai were opened on February 2.
     Even as it furthered its U.S. adventure, reports began circulating that EK is looking to open service to Washington, D.C., later this year.
     But last week it was all about Seattle.
     “Emirates has looked forward to the day when we would connect Seattle to our home hub in Dubai, on flights operated by state-of-the-art, Seattle-built aircraft," Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline & Group, said on board the historic flight to Seattle.
     On Friday Boeing delivered its latest 777 to Emirates, the 1,000th B777, at a giant celebration in Everett. As the week concluded, grand parties and events continued to bring the excitement of a great new airline service to the American northwest for the first time in history.

Pictured (L to R) Jessica Haden (cabin crew); Brigadier Pilot Ahmad Mohammad bin Thani, Director-General of Dubai Police’s General Department of Airport Security; Justin Hicks Siberell, U.S. Consul-General in Dubai; Tim Clark, President, Emirates airline; Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates airline and Group; Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade; Major General Mohamed Al Ali, Deputy Minister, UAE Ministry of Defense; Adel Al Redha, Executive Vice-President, Engineering and Operations, Emirates; Mohammed H. Mattar, Divisional Senior Vice-President, Airport Services; Hamad Mubarak Buamim, Director General of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Anne-Marie Neamtu (cabin crew), as Emirates launched daily flights from Dubai to Seattle.

     Especially sweet for Seattle is that Emirates currently operates the locally built B777s to each of its six United States gateways: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Seattle.
     "These new services to Seattle and Dallas/Fort Worth emphasize Emirates' confidence in, and long-term commitment to, the United States," Emirates President, Tim Clark, declared.
     "With six gateways offering convenient connectivity from points across the country, customers in the U.S. will find it easier than ever to access our vast global network."
     "Our latest expansion also serves as a powerful indicator of how Emirates continues to invest in products and services even during difficult economic climates," Clark said, adding:
     "We have always been ahead of the curve in anticipating what is now becoming an accepted truth—that demand for air travel will continue to grow over the long term in spite of the many challenges the industry faces.
     “In making this investment now, Emirates is providing a timely economic boost to the United States whilst ensuring that we are soundly placed to serve America's future air travel (and air cargo shipping) needs."


     It was 1994 in a darkened hall in Seattle, Washington when an airline most Americans had never heard of called Emirates participated in The International Air Cargo Association’s (TIACA) second Air Cargo Forum.
     Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum spoke in a quiet, yet determined manner about Emirates Airline with particular focus on air cargo.
     Almost no one saw Emirates one day emerging as the biggest airline in the Middle East and one of a handful of leading airlines of the world, but Sheikh Ahmed saw it.
     Later, with others, we would join Sheikh Ahmed in his suite at the host hotel for a relaxed evening party with more conversation.
     Thinking back on that time, I guess the Sheikh was on a voyage of discovery, studying us in air cargo as much as we were studying him.
     He accepted a copy of our “Great Airports Worldwide,” an eight-pound book we created for ACI that included 137 airport histories.
     The Prince said with a smile:
     “Next time that you do this book, my hope is you will include Dubai.”
     When presented a small silver Dhow in an elegant red velvet box, I remember thinking that this airline really had its act together – that it knew full well where it had come from and where it was going.
     During a couple of brief encounters 17 years ago, Sheikh Ahmed was gracious, smart, inquisitive and definitely living and building a dream into reality.
     Today, Emirates is the sixth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers and largest in the world in terms of scheduled international passenger kilometers flown.
     EK is also the seventh largest in terms of scheduled freight ton-kilometers flown.
     With scores of new aircraft on order and plans to expand beyond every horizon, the Emirates saga continues.
Sheikh Ahmed is still at the helm, with the added title of airline CEO.
     Sometimes, nice guys finish first.

     “Our daily, non-stop flights from DFW and SEA offer the fastest routes to the Middle East and beyond.
     “We look forward to helping more American firms enhance their trade ties not only with the UAE, but also with markets in parts of South Asia such as China, South Korea and Japan, and numerous points throughout Emirates’ extensive network in India and Africa.” said Ram Menen, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Cargo, as Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)- Dubai (DXB) via B777-200LR flights went non-stop daily on February 2. This will be closely followed by B777-300ER daily services Dubai-Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) International Airport, commencing next month on March 1.
     “When combined with the efficiency of one of the youngest fleets in the skies, unrivaled ground-handling facilities, and the very latest information technology at our Cargo Mega Terminal, Emirates SkyCargo is the ideal partner for Dallas/Fort Worth and Seattle-based businesses as they look to boost trade,” added Menen.
     Emirates North American operations at DFW and SEA join existing flights from New York (JFK), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), and San Francisco (SFO), as well as Toronto (YYZ).
     Next on tap EK adds Ho Chi Minh City (June 4th), Barcelona (July 3rd) and Lisbon (July 9th).


     Ask Sir Maurice Flanagan, KBE, CBE, BA, Hon. FRAeS, FRAeS, FCIT to suppose for a moment what history might say about his spectacular and long-lived aviation career, which has included the founding of a great global airline, and the Executive Vice Chairman, Emirates Airline Group says simply:
     “I've been lucky.
     “I think it's that simple.”
     Throughout history there has been much written about men and women who have pioneered and changed history.
     In aviation, Lindbergh and Earhart come to mind.
     Present at the creation, Sir Maurice Flanagan continues upon an epoch journey begun some 35 years ago in Dubai, UAE. Once upon a time, two leased-in aircraft grew into a transportation resource that today reaches out on the wings of its airline to almost everywhere on the planet.
     Now in his 80s, Maurice Flanagan moves about with a slight hitch in his giddy-up—as he recovers from corrective knee surgery.
     Interestingly it was a knee injury as a young man from playing football that left the Blackburn Rovers Football Club in Lancashire quite upset.
     But the cargo community can thank that injury for leading him into the industry, as he abandoned sports and began work for British Overseas Airways Corporation.
     “Dubai offers complete freedom of the skies,” says Sir Maurice, who apparently still prefers to be spoken to simply as Maurice, as he quickly corrects this reporter.
     “We began with a $10 million stake and a couple of leased airplanes from PIA as a regional airline with absolutely no protection, and we continue to operate in a fair and balanced competitive airline environment in Dubai.”
     “For Emirates, looking ahead means more of the same challenges - the imperative to expand rapidly, whilst remaining profitable and maintaining a high standard of service.
     “In principle, none of the fundamentals have changed since I began in this business.
     “Value for money still must drive all that we do.”
     When we asked Sir Maurice to think back over his career and recall what had surprised him, his answer was immediate and direct:
     “More than anything else, Dubai has surprised me.
     “I came here on secondment from British Airways, for two years—thirty-five years ago.
     “I've seen centuries of change here in that time, all to the good.”
     Sir Maurice’s sentiments are that there couldn’t be much more that you would want from an airline; Emirates has it covered. To those who believe that Emirates’ growth spurt happened too quickly to retain momentum and excitement for the airline, his response is simply,
     “It's an assumption that might be made by someone simply contemplating Emirate's rate of growth.”
     When you fly Emirates, it is all class. You would be hard pressed to find a negative experience among fliers, and for that reason there are no plans in the future to add things like low-cost services to the business package.
     In 1985, Maurice Flanagan was appointed by the Dubai government to start up an airline, and Emirates is the happy, successful result. Dubai could not have placed the task in more capable hands.
     “I was selected by Sheikh Mohammed to start the airline.
     “When the airline started I had daily airline tutorials with Sheikh Ahmed.
     “He has a brilliant mind, and had a memory like a steel trap.
     “He has been so hands on that it was right to add Chief Executive to his title last year.
     “Today, Emirates Group is a community of 50,000 people; that’s as much as a small town. That makes it much more than an airline, particularly when you consider the multifarious activities that come under Gary Chapman, President Dnata and Group Services. “
     Finally, while he acknowledges that young people today can still find airline business as he once did:      “exciting, with prospects of travel,” Sir Maurice admits that he might have done something else with his life:
     “I wrote a prize-winning TV play, with Leonard Rossiter in the main role.
     “It was suggested to me by Kenneth Tynan, the theatre critic, that I should do that full-time, but I had a stable career with BOAC at the time, and did not want to take the risk.”
     So given the chance to take the other path, would he choose an airline career again?
     “Certainly,” Sir Maurice Flanagan said.
     “Dubai International traffic has grown ten fold in ten years and it still continues at around 18 percent a year.
     “You don’t have to be in Dubai very long to realize that extraordinary things happen here principally because of leadership and the people.
     “The visionary leadership here is amazing and the reason I think for Dubai’s great success.”
     There is a down to earth and unaffected side of Maurice Flanagan evident when he talks about his Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.
     “The investment actually took place in Abu Dhabi.
     “That was quite a wonderful day, especially since I was able to bring 20 people including my family and Prince Maktoum to celebrate a very special moment in my life.
     “If the ceremony had been held in England, my guest list would have been just two, Maurice Flanagan said.”

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     Almost two decades ago we were aboard the very first flight of Singapore Airlines, after SIA took delivery of its 1000th B747. We departed Seattle on October 12, 1993 and flew non-stop to Changi.
     The reporters sat in the business cabin and ate box lunches all the way, until somebody figured out that lying across the coach seats was more comfortable for sleeping.
     While we were aloft, I noticed one guy from SIA was peeking out of the little round window in the aft passenger boarding door.
     I asked him what he was looking at and he ventured:
     “I’m watching how much the blended wing tip moves up and down.”
     I asked what would happen if it moved too much?
     He said firmly:
     “Why, we would take the airplane back to Boeing!”
     He looked at me and laughed.
     But I was sure he meant it; so thorough was Singapore Airlines about everything.
     That airplane remained with SIA until 2010, and today, after freighter conversion, N400SA is in service for Southern Air Cargo, where it was photographed at Liege during early February 2012.
     As someone who has done it, I can tell you firsthand that it is thrilling to be part of the day a 1,000th airplane is delivered.
     I have never forgotten that trip and even today, nearly 20 years later, I still think about sitting in the Long Bar at Raffles upon arrival in Singapore and telling everybody within earshot all about it.
     Look into the faces of the people in Seattle on Friday.
     It’s just great to see a good time being had by all.

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