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Emirates Airline plans fresh investments of $15 billion

C.R. Sukumar

DUBAI, Oct. 31

EMIRATES Airline, the international airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is currently chalking out new growth strategies to cash in on the major initiatives of Dubai, the second largest of the seven emirates.

While the Dubai government has worked out plans to become one of the significant players in the emerging new economy with investment schemes of over $250 billion to be spent before decade-end, Emirates, a wholly owned entity of the Dubai government, proposes fresh investments of $15 billion during this period.

Emirates, which currently links 63 cities in 45 countries in West Asia, Europe, Africa, Asia, CIS countries, Indian Ocean and Australia with a fleet of 48 aircraft, has decided to expand its fleet size to over 100 aircraft by 2010, according to the Emirates Director, Destination and Leisure Management, Mr Hans E. Haensel.

"Emirates has become the first airline to sign the largest-ever aircraft order for a firm commitment of 22 of the world's largest airliner - A380 aircraft - with option for another 10 aircraft. We have also signed two Letters of Intent for eight Airbus A340-600 aircraft and 25 Boeing 777s in two versions, in addition to ordering three more Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The total order will boost emirates fleet to over 100 aircraft by the year 2010," Mr Haensel told a group of visiting journalists from Hyderabad.

According to Mr Haensel, Emirates Airline is currently running on a commercial basis and receives no financial support, guarantees or protection from the Dubai government, which operates an unconditional open skies policy in Dubai. In spite of this, Emirates Airline had been profitable, he said.

Emirates' Destination and Leisure Management division comprises wholesale tour operator - Emirates Holidays, Destination Management company - Arabian Adventures, and Al Maha, the region's first luxurious desert resort.

Emirates Holidays, the largest tour operator of the Gulf and West Asia, is currently offering over 1,000 vacation products to 33 destinations.

These products are distributed to 12 cities in the Gulf and West Asia as well as Turkey, Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan, SriA Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.

Arabian Adventures, which has been instrumental in the tourism product development of Dubai and the UAE, is also working out various new initiatives to promote Dubai to the world. It currently designs, operates and conducts a full range of tours, desert safaris, overland tours and incentives.

"Our objective is to offer the best service on every route we operate, to provide the international links between Dubai and the world, and to contribute towards Dubai's development as the Middle East's commercial centre and aviation hub."

Stating that there was neither oil money nor the government guarantees for Emirates Airline, Mr Hans Haensel said, "our success lies in strategic planning, pinpointing routes on which new business can be generated and flexibility that allows the carrier to seize new opportunities wherever they arise."

According to the Emirates General manager, India & Nepal, Mr Nabil Sultan, the air carrier is bullish on India and is currently working on expanding its destinations in the country.

However, he declined to elaborate on the issue citing confidentiality of the plans.

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