Our History

The milestones in Emirates’ incredible journey

The story of a firm whose success story is intertwined with the incredible development of Dubai could be nothing but fascinating. Against a backdrop of regional unrest and volatile global economies, progress has been maintained at a rapid pace in every year of Emirates' and dnata's existence. A combination of business acumen, ambition and savvy investment set in motion a series of events which have propelled Emirates and dnata to amongst the most respected and recognised brands in the world.


  • Emirates joins Boeing in Seattle to celebrate the unveiling of its 1,000th 777. The landmark aircraft becomes the 102nd to join Emirates’ Boeing 777 fleet.
  • Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Lusaka, Harare, Dallas, Seattle, Ho Chi Minh City, Barcelona, Lisbon and Washington join the Emirates network, while a cargo-only service launches to Liege.
  • dnata acquires a majority stake in Travel Republic, the largest privately owned online travel agency in the UK, representing one of the biggest transactions in the company’s history.
  • Marhaba celebrates its 20th anniversary and unveils new look.
  • In tennis, Emirates becomes the Official Airline of the US Open and title sponsor of the Emirates Airline US Open Series.
  • Emirates becomes the Team Sponsor of cricket’s Indian Premier League side Deccan Chargers.


  • Emirates places the largest single order in Boeing’s history - 50 777-300 ER aircraft, worth $18 billion in list price. The order also included 20 777-300 ER options valued at US$ 8 billion.
  • The Emirates Group posts a record profit of AED 5.9 billion (US$1.6bn) for the financial year
  • Basra, Geneva, Copenhagen, St Petersburg and Baghdad are added to the Emirates network, while a cargo-only service is launched to Erbil.
  • Shanghai, Johannesburg, Munich and Rome are added to Emirates’ A380 network.
  • Emirates becomes the Partner and Official Airline of Real Madrid.
  • Emirates and the Victoria Racing Club announce a new five-year sponsorship agreement.
  • Emirates SkyCargo completes its first 100 per cent paperless freighter flight between Nairobi and Amsterdam.
  • Emirates agrees to sponsor the ‘Emirates Air Line’, a cable car across London’s River Thames.
  • AeroMobile, Emirates’ inflight mobile phone service provider, reaches its five millionth user and Emirates launches Wi-Fi internet connectivity for its A380 fleet.
  • dnata unveils a new company philosophy and fresh visual branding.
  • dnata announces a global investment of US$70 million in new equipment and facilities.
  • dnata acquires a 50 per cent interest in Wings Inflight Services, a South African catering services provider.


  • Emirates celebrates its 25th anniversary marking a quarter of a century of success and remarkable growth.
  • New routes to Tokyo, Amsterdam, Prague, Al Medinah al Munawarah, Madrid and Dakar launch, while cargo-only operations to Almaty, Bagram and Campinas commence.
  • The Emirates Group posts an increased profit of AED 4.2 billion (US$1.1bn) for the financial year ending 31 March 2010.
  • Emirates orders 32 additional A380s at the Berlin Air Show along with GP7200 engines by Engine Alliance. It also orders 30 additional B777-300ERs at the Farnborough Air Show.
  • Emirates is part of celebrations in South Africa an Official Partner of the FIFA World Cup.
  • Emirates SkyCargo operates the first paperless flight between Mauritius and Dubai with all shipments carried processed electronically.
  • Emirates SkyCargo sets a new record by operating the longest ever non-stop freighter flight of 17.5 hours between Sydney and New York.
  • dnata acquires Mercator Asia in Thailand, its first overseas IT subsidiary.
  • dnata ground handling welcomes the first commercial flight to land at the new Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International.
  • dnata officially opens its ‘baggage hub control centre’ across all three terminals at Dubai International Airport.
  • dnata becomes the 4th largest catering provider worldwide by acquiring Alpha Flight Group Ltd.


  • dnata acquires two of the UK’s leading ground-handling operations at London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport.
  • dnata opens Afghanistan’s first internationally recognised one stop travel shop in the country’s capital, Kabul.
  • Emirates launches flights to Durban and Luanda.
  • Emirates begins operations of the Airbus A380 on the Sydney, Auckland, Bangkok, Toronto and Seoul routes.
  • Emirates becomes the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777s with the delivery of its 78th B777 aircraft.
  • Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Australia’s first conservation-based resort and Emirates Hotels & Resorts’ first property outside of Dubai, welcomes its first guests.
  • Arsenal Soccer Schools Dubai – a joint venture between Emirates and Arsenal - opens its doors.
  • dnata marks its 50th anniversary at the Dubai Airshow.
  • Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa celebrates its 10th anniversary.
  • Skywards, with more than five million members, marks its 10th anniversary with a new look and an enhanced programme.
  • Premier Inn, a joint venture between the Emirates Group and Whitbread plc, opens its second hotel in Dubai at Silicon Oasis.
  • The millionth Emirates passenger uses their own mobile phone on an aircraft equipped with the AeroMobile system.
  • The largest ever Emirates’ TV advertising campaign to date – “Meet Dubai” – airs around the world.
  • Emirates opens its Community Health Education Society (CHES) home for HIV-positive children in Chennai, India.


  • dnata acquires a 23% share of worldwide corporate travel company, Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), the largest share of the company, which gives dnata access to a network of 120 countries.
  • dnata purchases a 49% share in Mind Pearl, a global contact centre outsource organisation, which sees dnata expand across three continents in their offering of contact centre outsource solutions.
  • dnata’s cargo operation joins forces with Kanoo, UAE and SDV International Logistics, France to create one of the UAE’s largest logistics solutions providers, Freightworks.
  • The company moves into the new multi - million dollar Emirates Group Headquarters.
  • The Emirates- dedicated Terminal 3 opens in October and within a month 500,000 passengers had flown out the terminal.
  • Emirates SkyCargo begins operations out of Dubai Cargo Village’s new Mega Terminal, with a capacity to handle 1.2 million tonnes annually.
  • The first Emirates flight to Los Angeles touches down, while flights are also launched to San Francisco and Cape Town.
  • Emirates becomes the first international carrier to introduce an in-flight mobile phone service.
  • Emirates takes delivery of three A380s and aviation history is made when its first A380 touches down in New York.
  • The 10,000th cabin crew member joins the Emirates team.
  • New Emirates sporting facility 7he Sevens hosts record crowds at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.


  • dnata enters the European market for the first time with the take over of Jet Aviation Handling AG, the airport handling division of Swiss-based Jet Aviation Group.
  • Emirates stuns the world by signing contracts for 120 Airbus A350s, 11 A380s and 12 Boeing 777-330ERs, worth an estimated $34.9 billion, at the Dubai Air Show.
  • New Engineering Centre and Engine Test Cell are officially opened.
  • The Emirates Harbour Hotel & Residence and the Marina Hotel open their doors.
  • The addition of Sao Paulo to the network represents the first non-stop flight between the Middle East and South America.
  • Emirates Flight Catering begins operations at its new $120 million facility at Dubai International.


  • Emirates signs an agreement for 10 Boeing 747-8F in a deal worth $3.3 billion.
  • Emirates seals $195 million partnership deal with Fifa – the world governing body of football –and also buys the rights to screen every match played at the Germany World Cup on flights.
  • Arsenal play their first match at the new Emirates Stadium.
  • Sheikh Ahmed says Emirates is at the heart of Dubai’s Dhs300 billion investment in aviation and aerospace.
  • Emirates SkyCargo signs $2.8 billion order for 10 Boeing 747-8Fs.


  • Emirates Group workforce totals 25,000 people from 124 countries around the world, making it Dubai’s biggest employer.
  • Passenger traffic continues to rise with 12.5 million recorded in the year.
  • Emirates orders 42 Boeing 777s in a deal worth $9.7 billion, the largest Boeing 777 order in history.


  • Emirates orders four Boeing 777-300ERs, with nine options, in a $2.96 billion deal.
  • The SkyCargo fleet is increased with three Airbus A310-300s added to its six Boeing 747s.
  • Emirates makes its first flight to North America – a non-stop 14-hour flight to New York’s JFK Airport. This marked the first non-stop passenger service from the Middle East to North America, a continent which Mr Flanagan described, in aviation terms, as the most important in the world.
  • Emirates signs a £100 million deal with English Premiership side Arsenal, which includes naming rights to its new stadium for 15 years and shirt sponsorship for eight years, starting from the 2006/07 season.
  • dnata opens its first regional travel outlet in Kuwait.


  • CAE and Emirates join forces to open the $100 million Emirates Aviation Training Centre which boasts numerous full-flight simulators.
  • Emirates shocks the industry at the Paris Air Show with the biggest deal in civil aviation history - a staggering order for 71 aircraft at a cost of $19 billion.
  • Daily service from Dubai to Sydney starts on the first A340-500 to join the fleet.
  • The A340-500 features revolutionary ice in-flight entertainment system – including 500 channels in all classes, while every seat is equipped with a phone.
  • After carrying 8.5 million passengers, an increase of 26%, the airline posts an incredible profits increase of 94 per cent to Dhs907 million from Dhs468 million.
  • dnata is given a new corporate logo – a globe cushioned by a stylised runway represented by a curving green strip.


  • Four million passengers vote in the Skytrax internet poll and Emirates is again named Airline of the Year.
  • Global passenger levels drop by four per cent but Emirates figures rise 18.3 per cent to 6.8 million.
  • Cargo across the world plunges nine per cent but Emirates enjoys an increase of 19.5 per cent to 400,000 tonnes.
  • Group announces $275 million investment in new hangar complex at the Emirates Engineering Centre.


  • Emirates SkyCargo Centre – with a capacity to handle 400,000 tonnes a year – opens.
  • Emirates signs £24 million deal to sponsor English Premiership football club Chelsea for four years.
  • In a survey of 2.7 million airline passengers by Skytrax Research, Emirates was voted Airline of the Year.
  • Emirates takes delivery of its 18th Airbus A330-200 and orders two more, making it the biggest A330 operator in the world.
  • With rivals reeling from September 11 and Boeing and Airbus in a weak bargaining position, Emirates stuns the world by announcing a $15 billion order for 15 A380s, eight A340-600s, three A330s and 25 Boeing 777s.


  • The Sheikh Rashid Terminal opens, increasing the capacity at Dubai International to 22 million passengers a year.
  • Frequent flyer loyalty programme Emirates Skywards is launched.
  • Sheikh Ahmed announces Dubai Government is to invest $500-600m in the new Terminal 3 - with a capacity for 20 million passengers a year.
  • Emirates becomes the first airline to sign up for the Airbus A380 when it orders seven, with an option on five more, at the Farnborough Air Show.
  • Emirates buys another six Boeing 777-300s.
  • Mr Flanagan is made a Commander of the British Empire.


  • Emirates enters the hotel property market with the opening of the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa.
  • The first of 17 new generation Airbus A330-200s arrive in Dubai.
  • Emirates Group’s workforce totals 11,000.
  • dnata enters the South East Asian airport services market with the launch of dnata Philippines Inc.
  • The airline capitalises on the UAE’s growing ties with Australia and a deal is struck to add Sydney, Brisbane and Perth to the Melbourne route.
  • Emirates sponsors the Melbourne Cup, the biggest meeting in Australia’s horse racing calendar, and the nation’s cricket team at the World Cup.
  • The livery of the Emirates fleet is updated with a modern, dynamic design.
  • Passenger arrivals at Dubai International hit the 11 million mark.


  • Emirates increases its capacity by 26 per cent as passenger figures hit 3.7 million, while cargo levels go up to 200,000 tonnes.
  • Group takes a 43 per cent stake in Air Lanka, which is renamed SriLankan.
  • Emirates is voted Best Airline in the World at prestigious OAG Awards.
  • The $540 million Terminal 2 is opened at Dubai International.


  • Emirates makes a $2 billion order for 16 Airbus A330-200s.
  • Airline defies high fuel prices to again post record profits as passenger figures top three million and the cargo haul hits 150,000 tonnes.
  • Emirates takes delivery of six Boeing 777-200s, giving it new long-haul capabilities.


  • Airline takes delivery of its first Boeing 777-200 and becomes the first airline to show live footage of take-off and landing. Its maiden flight to London is followed by Emirates’ inaugural flight to Melbourne.
  • Emirates becomes title sponsor of the world’s richest horse racing event - the Dubai World Cup.


  • As the airline celebrates its 10th birthday, it has a fleet flying to 34 locations in the Middle East, Far East and Europe.
  • Emirates enters the African market, with flights into Johannesburg, Nairobi and Kenya.
  • Sheikh Ahmed’s aim for more Emiratis to forge careers with Emirates starts to take shape as the first pilots graduate from Emirates’ training programme.
  • Emirates Flight Training Centre opens.


  • Emirates is the first airline to equip an Airbus fleet with an on-flight fax facility.


  • Emirates becomes the first airline to introduce telecommunications on an Airbus – in all three classes.


  • Emirates becomes the first airline to install video systems in all seats in all classes throughout its fleet.
  • Emirates convinces the French government to allow it to fly into Paris.
  • $2 million terminal exclusive to Emirates is opened at Dubai International.
  • Emirates becomes first airline to order a $20 million Airbus full-flight simulator.


  • On January 17, Emirates grounds its fleet for several hours as the battle to liberate Kuwait begins. Operations resume and Emirates’ maintains 90 per cent of its normal services during the first month of the conflict.
  • Emirates finally gets a slot at the busiest international hub in the world – London Heathrow.
  • Shortly after the arrival of another Airbus A300-600R, taking its fleet to nine, Emirates orders seven Boeing 777s, with an option for seven more, in a $64.5 million deal.
  • As the airline celebrates its sixth anniversary, 25,000 passengers a week are being flown to 23 destinations.


  • Sheikh Ahmed signs up for three more Airbus A310-300s at the Asean Aerospace exhibition in Singapore.
  • Emirates bucks the industry trend and continues to expand despite the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and adds Manchester to its schedule.


  • Flights are added to Singapore, Manila and Bangkok.


  • Damascus is added to the Emirates route network, giving it a total 12 destinations in just 38 months of business.


  • Deals are struck to fly into London’s Gatwick Airport, as well as Istanbul, Frankfurt and Male, the capital of the Maldives.
  • On July 3, A6-EKA flies from to Toulouse to Dubai as Emirates takes delivery of its first bought aircraft.
  • The Airbus A310-304 is designed to Emirates specifications, giving the airline the opportunity to fully implement its commitment to offering a superior flying experience than its rivals.


  • The network grows with traffic rights acquired into Amman, Colombo, Cairo and Dhaka.
  • Investment in infrastructure and expansion costs see Emirates posting losses for what would be the only time in its history.


  • Sheikh Mohammed introduces Mr Flanagan to his uncle and future Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
  • Mr Flanagan embarks on ambitious mission to launch an airline with $10 million in five months.
  • Sheikh Ahmed and future president Tim Clark join Mr Flanagan’s team.
  • Pakistan International Airlines agrees to wet-lease Emirates two aircraft.
  • Deals are struck to fly into Karachi, New Delhi and Bombay.
  • On October 25 Flight EK600 departs Dubai International for Karachi.
  • Sheikh Mohammed gifts two Boeing 727-200s to the airline.


  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Mr Flanagan discuss launching an airline in Dubai.
  • Mr Flanagan is among a 10-man team which produces a business plan for the new airline – to be named either Dubai Airlines or Emirates airline.
  • Sheikh Mohammed opts for Emirates and the decision is made to build the airline on top of dnata, which was already the sales agent for 25 airlines.


  • Maurice Flanagan moves to Dubai to become director and general manager of dnata.


  • Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum opens the airport and implements innovative open-skies policy.


  • dnata is established by the Dubai Government with just five staff to provide ground handling services at the new Dubai International Airport.
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