At the most recent World Airline Awards, Emirates scooped the coveted prize for the World’s Best Airline. The Dubai-based carrier also collected the awards for the World’s Best Middle East Airline and the World’s Best Inflight Entertainment – the latter for a record ninth year in a row.
The significance of the awards is not lost on the airline’s president, Tim Clark. The Skytrax World Airline Awards polled some 18 million air travelers from more than 160 countries worldwide – the very passengers and executives Clark and the assembled airline industry leaders want to woo.
“These awards are widely regarded as the industry’s benchmark for excellence,” he says with just a hint of pride. “For us, the awards are a vote of confidence from global travelers who acknowledge our continuous drive to deliver a high-quality service.”
But perhaps the icing on the cake was overtaking regional rival Qatar Airways, winner of the award in 2011 and 2012, and runner-up this time around.
Since launching in 1985, Emirates has grown into one of the world’s largest and most dynamic airlines, servicing 10 cities in the United States and Canada (in a codeshare arrangement with JetBlue and Alaska Airlines), and transforming once-sleepy Dubai into a major hub for global air travel.
The airline carried 43 million passengers last year across a route network spanning 142 destinations on six continents, and the airline expects to fly 70 million passengers a year by 2020.
Emirates has also earned itself a reputation for innovation. Its world-beating inflight entertainment system, ice, should amuse even the most restless passengers with 1,600 channels to choose from.
The airline has developed an advanced lighting system designed to combat the effects of jetlag, meaning long-haul passengers arrive relatively refreshed. It was also among the pioneers in allowing passengers to stay in touch by mobile phone, SMS and email with OnAir inflight WiFi.
It also has one of the world’s youngest fleets – 24 new aircraft were added last year alone. But records were really rewritten in November when Emirates placed a $99 billion order for 214 more planes, the largest in aviation history.
Emirates was one of the first airlines to fly the Airbus A380 and another 93 are on order and will soon be added to the fleet. In December, the ‘double-decker’ aircraft was deployed on the Dubai-Los Angeles route, creating the world’s longest A380 service at 16 hours and 20 minutes.
But perhaps most column inches have been dedicated to Emirates’ First Class Private Suites, a haven of privacy and luxury that allow deep-pocketed passengers to slide closed a door and forget about the hoi polloi beyond.
A personal mini-bar, adjustable ambient lighting, a vanity table, mirror and wardrobe, and a fully flat bed with a mattress – made up to order – ensure an onboard experience reminiscent of the halcyon days of air travel.
High tea, hors d’oeuvres and fine cuisine are mainstays of Emirates’ First Class service. Regionally inspired dishes such as stir-fried lobster in black bean sauce, Arabic mezze and glazed duck breast are served on Royal Doulton china.
First and business class on the A380 offer passengers dedicated on board lounges. The A380 even offers two on board Shower Spas for those who arrive looking every bit as groomed as when they boarded. A far cry from the slept-in blanket look endured by many long-haul passengers.
With two million Facebook followers, Emirates can even claim to be the world’s most popular airline. Profitable for 25 years in a row, its certainly keeping its shareholders happy.
“Being honored with these awards is testament to our unrelenting effort to be the world’s best airline,” says Clark. That effort is clearly paying off.
For reservations or more information on Emirates, visit emirates.com/us or call (800) 777-3999.