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Friday, 21 December 2012 10:39

Ahmed Khoory : “In ten years, Emirates has brought more than 1.85 million passengers to Mauritius”

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Emirates, one of the fastest growing international airlines, is celebrating its 10 years of presence in Mauritius. Since the beginning of this month it has launched of three new frequencies to its present weekly flights to Mauritius.
The service has been doubled daily, beginning 2nd December 2012. The 12th weekly flight was introduced on 31st October and the two further frequencies were added on 2nd December. They are being serviced by a Boeing 777-300 in a three-class configuration.      

News on Sunday met Ahmed Khoory, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, West Asia Indian Ocean, who was on an official visit to Mauritius to mark this event and Oomar Ramtoolah, Emirates’ Manager, Indian Ocean Islands, to discuss various issues - the success of the airline and of its commitment to serve the island and develop its tourism industry.

How did Emirates Airlines come into existence? How did it progress so rapidly? What are the secrets of its success worldwide?
Many still marvel at what Emirates has achieved in 27 years, since the first flight to Karachi took off on October 25, 1985 from a relatively rudimentary Dubai airport. Under the chairmanship of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, it is a story of collective wisdom, forensic planning and the boldness to create an airline that would help create an inspiring modern city, snatched from the desert. The growth of Dubai and Emirates went hand in hand and they still do to this day. With a fleet of more than 185 modern, wide-bodied aircrafts, and a new plane arriving roughly every four weeks, the airline currently flies to over 120 destinations in six continents, from its international hub of Dubai.

Emirates' standing is so much more than an airline. The company has evolved into a travel and tourism operation on a colossal scale, straddling numerous divisions and propelled forward under the umbrella of the Emirates Group.

The impressive portfolio includes Dubai's household name of dnata, the successful supplier of air travel services, and many other entities, such as Emirates SkyCargo, Emirates Hotels & Resorts, Skywards and Emirates Aviation College. In all, there are more than 40 brands, employing 62,697 people.

Its fleet is one of the youngest in the skies and this figure will appear younger as it takes delivery of the 200-plus aircraft it has on order, worth almost $84 billion at list price. Emirates is the largest A380 operator, with 25-plus in the air and over 60 still to be delivered.

In 2011-2012, Emirates carried 34 million passengers, an increase of 2.6 million on the previous year. This year we have launched routes to Rio, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Lusaka, Harare, New Dallas, Seatlle, Ho Chi Minh City, Barcelona, Lisbon, Erbil, Washington, Adelaide; a few more are coming shortly: Lyon, Phuket, Warsaw and Algiers.

What is the current number of airplanes operated by Emirates?
Emirates currently operates 188 aircrafts in its rapidly growing fleet – a mix of 180 Airbus and Boeing passenger aircraft and 8 freighters. Emirates’ fleet is one of the youngest in the skies, with an average age of 79 months. The airline continuously replaces old aircraft by newer ones and has frequently been the first to sign up for new developments in aviation design and technology.    

Emirates announced more than two billion dollars profit for the year 2011/12. How did you achieve such a financial prowess when others are envisaging closures of their enterprises?
In the 2011/12 financial year, The Emirates Group has marked its 24th consecutive year of profit.   Despite fundamental challenges, the Group’s revenue reached a record high, climbing to US$ 18.4 billion, an increase of 17.8 percent on last year’s results. Wholly-owned by the government of Dubai, Emirates is often asked about the secret of its success. A passion to be the very best, innovation, a strong management team and astute cost consciousness are amongst the factors that have played an important role. ‘Achieving our 24th consecutive year of profit and maintaining an upward growth trajectory is an achievement that belies the industry norm,’ said His Highness (H.H) Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, a few weeks ago.

Since when is Emirates Airlines serving Mauritius? Why has it succeeded when other airlines have failed to serve this part of the world - Kenya Airways, Royal Swazi, Quantas and others?
Ten years back, Emirates started its operations to Mauritius with three weekly flights. In a few days, the airline will fly to Mauritius twice a day. This in itself is a proof that the Mauritius route is a success for Emirates.
These ten years have been marked by one word: partnership. Indeed, the partnership between Emirates and Mauritius has been a very strong one and we seize this opportunity to thank the Government of Mauritius for its trust and continued support. It is also important for me to thank our code-share partner Air Mauritius with whom we have a strong commercial relationship.

The partnership between Emirates and Mauritius is a success and this can be demonstrated by figures.
During the first year of our operations to Mauritius, we carried 23,000 passengers to the island. In 2011, Emirates carried around 285,000 passengers to Mauritius; these came from more than 100 points around the globe. We have registered an average growth of 15% year over year on the Dubai-Mauritius route and our load factor has been around 85%. In ten years, Emirates has brought more than 1.85 million passengers to Mauritius.

In January this year, Emirates and the government of Mauritius signed an agreement aimed at jointly promoting the island destination across the airline’s global network. The two parties have engaged in the development of a series of joint activities to increase the visibility and awareness around the island in the 120+ destinations to which the airline flies. Our global network is a very strong one. We connect Mauritius to the entire world, through Dubai. We look forward to some even more exciting times ahead working hand in hand with the Mauritian authorities.

Why has Emirates chosen a double daily flight to Mauritius?
The island destination is an important one for Emirates. We have committed ourselves towards promoting Mauritius and we will direct our efforts in this direction as the island becomes more accessible. The increase in frequencies will undoubtedly create more opportunities for the Mauritian tourism sector and local economy. The island destination is very popular throughout our network and double daily flights will offer even more flexibility to travellers. It is to be noted that 964,642 tourists visited Mauritius in 2011, representing an increase of 3.2% over the previous year.

Why Air Mauritius allowed Emirates Airlines to prosper and share business when such was not the case with other airlines?
We are pleased to have been associated with the development of Mauritius as a destination over the last ten years. Since the beginning of our operations to Mauritius, we have engaged in intensive marketing to promote the island across the network. Today, we are proud to have contributed to developing new markets for Mauritius. Russia, the Middle East and Eastern European countries are clear examples of the success of the campaigns we have unrolled.

These efforts, which are done in consultation with Air Mauritius and the MTPA, have brought results. Undeniably, our joint marketing efforts are bearing their fruits. Figures speak for themselves: the most recent survey of Statistics Mauritius for the first semester of 2012 show an important increase from the Russian market and the United Arab Emirates.

I am pleased to inform the media that over the past three months, Emirates has brought passengers from more than 60 different points from the globe to Mauritius. We even bring Americans to Mauritius! We have put the strength of our network at the service of the destination and this strategy is working. As you know, Emirates flies double-daily to Mauritius as from 2nd December and this increase in frequencies will undoubtedly create more opportunities for the Mauritian tourism sector as double daily flights will offer even more flexibility to travellers and also to the Mauritian business community.

We are pleased to say that with 14-weekly flights between Dubai and Mauritius, our efforts to strengthen the awareness around the attractions of the destination will be renewed. We look forward to working jointly with the Ministry of Tourism and the MTPA in that respect. We are also looking forward to the start of operations of the new airport terminal in Mauritius which will raise the standards even higher. Emirates and Mauritius are not only about tourism. This partnership also runs deep across other pillars such as agriculture and manufacturing. In a decade, Emirates has developed a strong trade corridor linking Mauritian exporters with key and emerging markets. Emirates is an important local player in Mauritius. Few people know that our yearly spend on the island is very high. In 2011, for example, we spent more than Rs. 1 billion with regards to fuel, landing and handling costs amongst others.

Emirates is well known for its beautiful and buxom hostesses. How many Mauritians are working for the airline? What is its policy on recruitment?
The Emirates cabin crew occupies a special place in the Emirates family, often acting as ambassadors for the company both at their base in Dubai and while on duty overseas. The carefully groomed public face of Emirates airline exudes excellence, gracefulness and professionalism that place its team in a league of its own. Emirates is a Mauritian-friendly employer. More than 200 Mauritians are already servicing Emirates and 100 of them are employed as cabin crew. They act as the airline’s ambassadors around the world.

Global recruitment drives, particularly in areas on the Emirates passenger route network, have resulted in a truly multi-cultural talent base of more than 120 different nationalities.  After going through a careful selection process, new recruits are put through five weeks of intensive training and assessment at the world-class Emirates Aviation College in Dubai. State-of-the art facilities, including emergency training simulators and full-scale aircraft mock-ups, along with medical training accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, ensure that Emirates’ passengers benefit from being in the best qualified hands in the industry.

In Mauritius companies are asked to earmark 2% of their profits for Corporate Social Responsibility, known as CSR. What is your commitment to local welfare?
The Emirates Group actively supports numerous causes both in the United Arab Emirates and around the world, but the one closest to our heart is the Emirates Airline Foundation. It is a non-profit charity organisation which aims to improve the quality of life for children, regardless of geographical, political, or religious boundaries, and to help them maintain or improve their human dignity. The foundation’s aim is to help disadvantaged children realise their full potential by providing them with the basics which most of us take for granted such as food, medicine, housing and education. Focusing particularly on children caught up in extreme poverty, the foundation, made up of volunteer employees and friends of the Emirates Group, strives to reduce illness and childhood mortality rates.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman & Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, the foundation provides humanitarian, philanthropic aid and services for children, with the minimum amount of administrative expenses. A board of directors, made up of senior Emirates Group management, decides on what projects to target with funds, which our passengers help build through their kind donations, as well as through our scheme to collect any loose foreign currency. The projects, either existing charities or new initiatives, are located primarily at Emirates’ destinations where local Emirates staff volunteers can participate and oversee their management, along with any assistance local communities may provide.

We are established by the permission of the Dubai Government and the accounts are audited by internal and external auditors. Our goal is to use 95 per cent of donated funds exclusively for the children, with five per cent allocated to administration costs. Our commitments are also well known in sports, particularly to football.

As an Official Partner of FIFA since 2007, Emirates is involved with all tournaments run by the world governing body of football. In 2004, Emirates and Arsenal agreed a record sponsorship deal, which gave the airline naming rights of the club’s new home, the Emirates Stadium, as well as the opportunity to host an annual pre-season tournament – the Emirates Cup.

Elsewhere in Europe, the airline supports AC Milan, which includes shirt sponsorship and an annual winter training camp in Dubai. In addition, it is also a shirt sponsor of Paris Saint-Germain and Hamburger SV, while it also has sponsorship agreements with Real Madrid and Olympiacos.

Emirates is also the Official Airline and Partner of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), In addition, Emirates is the Official Partner and Official Airline of the Zain Saudi Professional League.  We shall be glad to sponsor any local welfare organisation in Mauritius if the demand is being made and if the project is of importance to our Foundation.

Ahmed Hashim Khoory
Ahmed Khoory is Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, West Asia & Indian Ocean for Emirates. Ahmed began his aviation career with Emirates and has been with the company for over 20 years. He was appointed in the role of Senior Vice President Commercial Operations in 2009. In his current role Ahmed is responsible for the Commercial Management of 16 stations across the Middle East within 12 different countries.

On a daily basis Ahmed oversees all aspects of Emirates’ growth and development in these markets, driving revenue for the airline and capturing business from new markets. In addition to his role at Emirates Ahmed is also a well- known and respected businessman with many companies under his portfolio including Fortune Investment Group LLC, Fortune Holdings LLC etc.  Ahmed Khoory is an active role player in the community and holds many accolades being a founder of Rashid Pediatric Centre, Dubai, UAE (Centre for children with special needs), Board of Directors of UAE Volleyball Association, Board of Directors of Al Nasr Club and Emirates Flight Catering. Ahmed has a degree from Metropolitan University in Denver, Colorado.
Last modified on Friday, 21 December 2012 10:58
Indradev Curpen

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